Huge backup of ships bringing more pollution to LA, Long Beach-area port communities

Christmas is going to be a disaster.  The Port of Los Angeles has 70 shipped backed up unable to unload—when they have one ship like that they consider it a crisis.  On October 1, thanks to Biden hundreds if not thousands of truck drivers will be fired for their refusal to take the jab.  We already have a shortage of truck drivers.  COSTCO is warning its customers they have a shortage of toilet paper, paper towels and other items.

“It’s a situation that deserves the designation “unprecedented.” As does the cargo surge that has caused the backups at America’s two busiest ports.

But beyond the delayed cargo, there is another growing concern — the added pollution it is causing.

The ports already are major contributors to the region’s bad air, which they have worked to fix for years, ever since they enacted the joint 2006 Clean Air Action Plan.

But this current pile-up has increased pollution, forcing the state’s air quality watchdog to keep a close eye on the ports and worrying both environmentalists and nearby residents. Port officials, for their part, said the current pollution increases are short-term concerns — while they are focused on bringing down emissions over the long term.

Indeed, the ports are trying to get their overall greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

So Newsom is killing the economy and harming the environment—only a Democrat could do that.    October is going to be a BAD month for people in California.

Huge backup of ships bringing more pollution to LA, Long Beach-area port communities

Daily Breeze,  9/24/21 

Container ships stretch out in the waters surrounding the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — for miles.

They can be seen as far as Orange County and Catalina Island. The ships often wait at sea for days before they can offload their cargo.

It’s a situation that deserves the designation “unprecedented.” As does the cargo surge that has caused the backups at America’s two busiest ports.

But beyond the delayed cargo, there is another growing concern — the added pollution it is causing.

The ports already are major contributors to the region’s bad air, which they have worked to fix for years, ever since they enacted the joint 2006 Clean Air Action Plan.

But this current pile-up has increased pollution, forcing the state’s air quality watchdog to keep a close eye on the ports and worrying both environmentalists and nearby residents. Port officials, for their part, said the current pollution increases are short-term concerns — while they are focused on bringing down emissions over the long term.

Indeed, the ports are trying to get their overall greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

The twin ports, however, must often balance the need to reduce emissions and the critical role they play in both the regional and national economy. The ports, for example, are also trying to have an entirely zero-emissions truck fleet by 2035 and are in the process of enacting a fee for trucking companies that don’t transition. At the same time, officials don’t want costs passed on to low-income, often-independent drivers who transport much of the ports’ cargo, which represents 35% of the nation’s trade market share.

The current cargo surge — with both ports repeatedly breaking records — also illustrates that push and pull: The backlog has increased pollution and threatened a supply shortage ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, in a statement this week, touched on the role his city’s port plays in both the environment and the economy.

“The Port’s strength is going to be a key factor in driving our recovery locally,” he said, “and we will ensure it remains a leader in protecting the environment and promoting sustainable trade.”

Cargo surge increases emissions

The current congestion, though, “has led to emissions increases from fright-related sources which can negatively impact air quality, especially in communities near the ports,” a Sept. 13 report from the California Air Resources Board said.

But it’s not just the ships causing air pollution.

The massive amounts of cargo, CARB’s report said, also lead to increased activity from trucks and trains that must move the containers out of the ports.

“There has been a lot of progress made,” said Sam Pournazeri, chief of the Mobile Source Analysis Branch at CARB, “but it’s definitely not enough and this is definitely going to (cause) a setback.”

Analysis of emissions increases takes time. But excess emissions, officials said, are expected to continue.

Increased cargo movement and congestion — from container vessels, trains and heavy-duty trucks — had resulted in overall emissions increases of 14.5 tons per day of NOx (nitrogen oxide) and .27 tons per day of particulate matter in the South Coast Air Basin, as of March, according to CARB.

That came about nine months into a historic cargo surge that has since continued.

Kathleen Woodfield, active in the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, addressed Los Angeles harbor commissioners Thursday morning, Sept. 23, about the issue, saying she was shocked by the pollution the surge is causing, citing CARB data.

Communities surrounding the ports include lower income neighborhoods that have shouldered the brunt of the health impacts, including higher asthma and cancer rates, officials — including those at the ports — have said.

“We’re concerned,” said Christopher Chavez, deputy policy director for the nonprofit Coalition for Clean Air. The move to zero-emissions operations, he said, is still the laser focus.

“If you stand on one of the piers in Long Beach, you can see the puffs of smoke coming out of those ships, contributing to what has been historically bad air quality in the region of the ports,” said Chavez, who lives near the 710 Freeway in Long Beach. “We’re facing a number of challenges.”

Solutions

As for the cargo stacking up day after day, there are no easy fixes.

The solution, goods movement sources say, is complicated and involves a full-on alignment of every part of the supply chain.

“If cargo is flowing with good velocity, it reduces emissions,” Los Angeles Port Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “We need help.”

The backlog has captured the attention of all levels of government, with the White House helping to drive 24/7 expanded gate operations this month that are now being tested out in both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

But cargo flow also relies on there being enough room at warehouses and efficient movement of trains and trucks. Currently, Seroka said, some 30% of appointments to pick up or deliver containers are going unused by trucking companies.

Seroka also pointed to California Environmental Quality Act regulations that make it difficult to add elements such as the proposed BNSF intermodal rail yard facility designed to eliminate truck trips from area freeways from an existing industrial site within 4 miles of both ports.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, said terminal dwell time was up in August to 5.4 days, “the highest number we have recorded and approximately twice the historic average.”

When cargo sits at a terminal, he said in an email, it takes up valuable space and slows down the processing of ships.

And massive amounts of warehouse space located within 75 miles of Los Angeles is nearly full.

The challenge, McLaurin said, is a global one, with ports everywhere dealing with the cargo crunch.

“Increasing cargo velocity is a challenge that is complex, overlapping,” he said, “intensely impacted by the pandemic and requires a holistic approach in order to be successful.”

And the ships keep coming.

“Historically,” Pournazeri said, “there’s an average of one ship at anchor.”

On Sept. 20, “there were 70 at anchor,” he said.

Seroka, in his opening comments to harbor commission board members Thursday, said 89 vessels were at anchor and in adjacent drift areas that day, with 23 more container vessels set to arrive over the following three days.

“Just to put it in perspective, at 7 a.m. (Thursday) there were 62 container vessels at anchorage,” said Noel Hacegaba, managing director of Commercial Operations at the Port of Long Beach. “That’s 62 vessels at anchorage that are basically housing over half a million containers.”

West Coast ports, he said, are receiving cargo from seven of the world’s largest seaports.

“Were receiving volumes that outsize the U.S. West Coast in terms of the number of ports and terminals,” Hacegaba said. “It’s like pouring oil into an engine from a funnel. We’re accommodating ships and containers that far out-size our facilities.”

The added pollution, he said, is among the issues that have come with the overwhelming cargo crunch.

But the port’s environmental aims, he said, are focused on long-term progress and goals, with significant gains already achieved through the Clean Air Action Plan. While the massive congestion is anticipated to generally carry over — with some peaks and valleys — to next summer, it is seen as a short-term setback.

A closer look at how the congestion is impacting emission levels will come this fall.

Both ports will submit their 2020 air emissions reports in October, which are expected to show decreases for the first part of the year, when the pandemic led to drastically reduced cargo numbers, with emissions increases in the second half of the year, said Matt Arms, assistant director of Environmental Planning for the Port of Long Beach.

The inventory, Arms said, “is the most detailed, comprehensive and most accurate” collection of emissions recorded over specific time periods.

“We continue to make huge gains,” Arms said about reducing emissions, “though it is getting harder.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. Everyday, it is like looking at floating landfills – full of cheap poorly made Chinese crap.

    Why can’t the West Coast have hurricaines?

  2. Problem#1 Shortages! Americans Need what’s in those ships!
    Get people to WORK to ‘Off-Load’ the ships! For Cryin’ Out Loud! This isn’t difficult people!

    Doing their work will smooth-out pollution and get ships sailing back to their country of origin!

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