Air Emissions from Ships Decline at Port of Seattle

Ships at the Port of Seattle have reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by at least 80 percent and diesel particulate matter by 60 percent through an innovative program called At-Berth Clean Fuels. The program was unveiled on July 31 aboard Matson Navigation's M/V Manoa, at the Port's Terminal 18.

"ABC Fuels reduces emissions where it makes the greatest difference," said Phil Lutes, Deputy Managing Director of the Port's Seaport Division. "When ships are in port, they're close to where people work and live. Switching to low sulfur diesel when they're tied up at our piers means cleaner air for our region."

At-Berth Clean Fuels (ABC Fuels) was devised by the Port and shipping lines that call Seattle in order to meet the goals of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a joint effort by the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Vancouver (Canada) and their private sector partners to reduce maritime related air emissions.

Vessels participating in ABC Fuels agree to use low sulfur fuel (0.5% or less) in their auxiliary engines while docked in Seattle. In exchange, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency helps defray the cost of the more expensive low sulfur fuel by providing participating vessels with $1,500 for each port call.

"The financial incentive helps vessel operators make the transition to the cleaner fuels," said Lutes.

So far 37 ships from six container lines and one cruise line are participating in ABC Fuels. Those ships have made 91 stops at Seattle since January and represent about 35 percent of the vessels that make frequent calls at the Port. Sulfur dioxide emissions from those vessels have declined by more than 20 tons.

Participating shipping lines include APL, CMA CGM, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), Hapag Lloyd, Maersk Line, Matson Navigation, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

"We have a good verification process," said Lutes. "Participants log and show proof of their fuel purchases and fuel use," he said. "On-board inspections are conducted by Det Norske Veritas - an independent foundation based in Norway whose mission is safeguarding life, property and the environment."

"We're proud to partner on this project and commend the Port of Seattle and Matson for championing this effort to keep the 'Emerald City' green," said Dennis McLerran, Executive Director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. "This program achieves immediate and significant emission reductions when ships are in port, to the benefit of all who live and breathe in surrounding areas. We hope to see other larger container carriers and cruise lines take advantage of this program."

"Improving air quality at the dock when ships are closest to people is the best first step as vessels transition to cleaner fuels" said Captain Mike Moore with the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association. "We're pleased to support this cooperative effort to voluntarily reduce emissions while promoting strong international solutions - this proactive step will clean the air as we work to protect and grow jobs."

 "Matson appreciates the cooperative efforts that have allowed us to participate in this voluntary program to burn cleaner fuels at dock," said Lisa Swanson, Director of Environmental Affairs for Matson. "It is safer and easier to comply with than similar programs in other jurisdictions."

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