Release 09-62
July 1, 2009

    Dimitri Stanich
916-716-8047 cell
Starting today ocean-going ships off California's coast must use clean fuel
Requirement will reduce exhaust and annually prevent thousands of premature deaths

SACRAMENTO: Beginning today, July 1, all ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of California's coastline must use cleaner burning diesel fuel in order to comply with a new state regulation aimed at reducing the emissions of oxides of sulfur and nitrogen and diesel particulate matter, a known carcinogen.

"This new measure will help coastal residents breathe easier and reduce pollution in our oceans and waterways at the same time," Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

The requirement, adopted in 2008, will annually affect nearly 2,000 ocean-going vessels, both U.S. flagged and foreign-flagged, visiting California. The vessels will have to use lower-sulfur marine distillates rather than the highly polluting heavy-fuel oil often called bunker fuel.

"This comparatively simple switch for ships will have huge benefits for Californians," said Air Resources Board Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "People living along the coast will see benefits overnight: cleaner air and better health."

Using the cleaner fuels will be phased in, but significant emission reductions will be immediate. Initially, 13 tons-per-day of toxic particulate matter emitted from the vessels' diesel engines will be eliminated. Reductions will increase as the fuel sulfur content is progressively lowered through the regulation's phase-in.

Today's switch will eliminate about a 75 percent of the diesel PM, over 80% of the sulfur oxides and 6 percent of the nitrogen oxides. In 2012, when the very low sulfur fuel is required, 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.

Reducing ship exhaust will eliminate an estimated 3,600 premature deaths between 2009 and 2015 and lower the cancer risk by over 80 percent. In addition, the emission reductions will assist the South Coast Air Quality Management District meet its 2014 federal clean air requirements for fine particulate matter. The reductions are also needed for ARB to achieve its targeted 85 percent reduction of diesel PM by 2020.

Air board representatives explain that the regulation is extremely cost effective. The fuel is readily available and complying with the regulation would typically add $30,000 to a California port visit, roughly one percent of the typical fuel costs for a vessel crossing the Pacific Ocean. The shipping industry maintains that a typical voyage for a container vessel from Asia to U.S. west coast costs a company two to three million dollars. For a container ship with consumer products, this cost increase equates to an extra 12.5 cents in the cost of a plasma TV. For a cruise ship passenger, using industry's numbers, this would add about $15 to a fare.

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.

In 2000, the ARB developed its Diesel Risk Reduction Plan that set the goal of cutting diesel emissions by 85 percent by 2020. The plan includes a series of measures designed to achieve that goal. As part of that plan the Board has adopted measures that require the use of low sulfur diesel fuel in most applications statewide, tighter tailpipe limits on in-use diesel trucks and buses and to control emissions from port equipment and ships operating in California waters.

For more information on the new regulation covering vessels go here: /ports/marinevess/marinevess.htm .

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

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.