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Seattle Industry Fall 2008

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Seattle Industry Online is published by the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle

Fall 2008 Issue - Special Report

Ahead Of The Emissions Curve
Port of Seattle


Posted: December, 2008

Unlike its counterparts to the south, the Port of Seattle is not facing a regulatory hammer wielded by the EPA requiring reduction of emissions, and Wayne Grotheer, the port’s director of seaport professional and technical services, wants to keep it that way. The region recently exceeded federal standards for ozone, but that’s not expected to have much of an effect upon the Port because diesel trucks, ships and other equipment used to handle cargo don’t have much of an effect on ozone levels.

Just this year the ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, B.C. approved the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, which sets goals to reduce emissions from ships while they are in port by 70 percent by 2010.

Biodiesel fuels off-road cargo equipment at the Port of SeattleTo meet those goals the plan will encourage the companies that work at the port to switch to cleaner fuels or to retrofit existing engines.

“We’re working with the industries in a collaborative fashion, which sets us apart,” Grotheer said.

The Port is seeking out grants to help the industries with additional costs of these retrofits, he said.

All these small steps might add up – and they better.

The Port believes that the 1,800 trucks that use public roads near port facilities in Seattle and Tacoma emit 36 tons of diesel particulate (DPM) every year, or one percent of the region’s total DPM. Yet ships are far worse. It is estimated that ships at dock in Seattle and Tacoma now annually spew particulates totaling about 102 tons per year, or two percent of the region’s total DPM.

By focusing on the 400 some older semi-trucks – those with engines and emissions technology older than 1994 – port officials figure they can cut the emission rate by 60 percent in the next two years. The port, said Grotheer, is also currently supporting a grant proposal to help buy newer trucks, which will be retrofitted with pollution-control devices. In turn, these trucks will be leased back to the owner-operators at a reasonable price. By 2017, the port has set a goal that all Class 8 rigs in operation there will meet or beat the 2007 emissions standards.