Release 08-68
July 24, 2008

    Dimitri Stanich
Ships off California's coast must adhere to world's strictest diesel emission regulation
Requirement will prevent hundreds of premature deaths annually

SACRAMENTO: Today the California Air Resources Board adopted a regulation that eliminates 15 tons of diesel exhaust daily from ocean-going vessels, substantially reducing the cancer rates and premature deaths associated with living near seaports and trade corridors along California's coast.

The new measure requires ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of California's coastline to use lower-sulfur marine distillates in their main and auxiliary engines and auxiliary boilers, rather than the dirtier heavy-fuel oil called bunker fuel. About 2,000 ocean-going vessels visiting California ports annually are subject to this restriction.

"This regulation will save lives," said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols. "At ports and all along the California coast we will see cleaner air and better health."

The regulation will be implemented in two steps, each requiring lower sulfur content in the fuel- first in 2009 and final in 2012. Both U.S.-flagged and foreign-flagged vessels are subject to the regulation which is the most stringent and comprehensive requirement for marine fuel-use in the world.

Using the cleaner fuels required in 2009 will result in immediate and significant reductions in the emissions from ocean-going vessels. Reductions will increase as the fuel sulfur content is progressively lowered through the regulation's phase-in. In 2009 about a 75% percent of the diesel PM, over 80% of the sulfur oxides and 6 percent of the nitrogen oxides will be eliminated. In 2012, when the very low sulfur fuel requirement is implemented, reductions of diesel particulate matter will be 15 tons daily, an 83 percent reduction compared to uncontrolled emissions. Sulfur oxides will be reduced by 140 tons daily, a 95 percent reduction and nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 11 tons per day, a 6 percent reduction.

An estimated 3,600 premature deaths between 2009 and 2015 will be avoided, and the cancer risk associated with the emissions from these vessels would be reduced by over 80 percent. In addition, the measure will aid the South Coast Air Quality Management District meet its federal clean air requirements for fine particulate matter by 2014 and move California closer to its goal of reducing diesel particulate matter 85 percent by 2020.

Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and over 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. Currently in California, diesel PM emissions from ocean-going vessels expose more than twenty-seven million people or 80% of California's total population, to cancer risk levels at or above 10 chances in a million.

This fall the ARB will consider further measures to reduce emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks. Over the past 10 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 on-road diesel trucks, railroad and ship engines have reduced pollution around rail yards and ports.

For more information on the new regulation covering vessels go here: .

For more information on ARB's efforts to address diesel emissions go here: .

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.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our web site at