Release 08-53
June 10, 2008

    Dimitri Stanich
(916) 322-2990
Air Board proposes world's strictest regulation curbing emissions from ocean-going vessels

If passed, rule would prevent thousands of premature deaths annually

SACRAMENTO: The California Air Resources Board has released a proposed regulation that would require ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles off California's coastline to use cleaner fuel in their main and auxiliary engines, and boilers.

The measure to be considered by the Air Resources Board at its July 24 and 25 meeting would annually affect about 2,000 ocean-going vessels visiting California. The vessels would be required to use lower-sulfur marine distillates rather than the highly polluting heavy-fuel oil often called bunker fuel.

"The gains made by this regulation will save lives all along the coast and provide significant health benefits for those living near heavily used California seaports." explained ARB Deputy Director, Michael Scheible. "We're requiring very large reductions that will greatly lessen air pollution from ships."

The proposed regulation requiring ships to use more refined fuel with lower sulfur content would be implemented in two steps - first in 2009 and final in 2012 - and would be the most stringent and comprehensive requirement for marine fuel-use in the world. Both U.S.-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels would be to subject to the statewide regulation.

The draft regulation would reduce emissions of toxic particulate matter from the vessels' diesel engines by 15 tons per day, an 80 percent reduction of the uncontrolled emissions now. Emissions of oxides of sulfur and nitrogen, major contributors to California's air pollution problems, would also be reduced by 90 and six percent, respectively.

The proposed regulation would have large health benefits for Californians. An estimated 2,000 premature deaths between 2009 and 2015 would be avoided, and the cancer risk caused by emissions from these vessels would be reduced by over 80 percent. In addition, the emission reductions would aid the South Coast Air Quality Management District meet federal clean air requirements for fine particulate matter by 2014. The regulation is also needed for ARB to achieve its targeted 85 percent reduction of diesel PM by 2020.

Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and over 40 other known cancer-causing substances. Currently, diesel PM emissions from ocean-going vessels expose over seven million people in California to high cancer risk levels - in excess of 100 in a million for lifetime exposures.

To reach its goal of reducing diesel PM throughout California, over the past eight years ARB has adopted regulations affecting cargo-handling equipment, transport refrigeration units, truck idling, off-road equipment, harbor craft, port drayage trucks, onboard incineration, and ships at-berth. ARB's cleaner fuel requirements for railroad and ship engines have reduced pollution around rail yards and ports. And this fall ARB will consider measures to reduce emissions from heavy duty diesel trucks.

For a copy of all the relevant regulatory documents go to: .

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.