Tougher at-berth emissions reductions in California

California’s new regulation designed to further reduce pollution from vessels berthed at its ports is now in force, Gard has informed its members.

The Club warned that, while compliance by visiting vessels is not required until 2023, the practices, procedures and equipment needed for compliance could be quite extensive and costly, and the preparatory work to ensure timely compliance should not be postponed.

The Californian regulation “Control Measure for Ocean-Going Vessels At-Berth“ has now been approved by the state’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and took effect on January 1st 2021.

The new Control Measure replaces the state’s previous regulation and is designed to further reduce the public’s exposure to air pollution generated by vessels berthed at California’s busiest ports.

According to the California Air Resource Board (CARB), the new Control Measures build on progress achieved by the previous At-Berth Regulation. It broadens the types of pollutants to be controlled as well as ports and vessel types to be regulated. It also recognizes that reducing emissions from vessels at berth is a collaborative effort between vessel crews/operators and terminal/port staff.

Under the previous At-Berth Regulation, a shore power capable vessel could arrive ready to plug into shore power, but if the port or terminal staff was not ready, willing, or able to position the vessel properly to connect within the specified time limits, the vessel risked being in non-compliance.

Gard’s understanding is that the new Control Measure seeks to avoid situations where vessel operators are held responsible for events outside the control of the vessel. The Measure allocates clear responsibilities between the different parties involves.

Practical implications for ship operators

Under the new Control Measure, almost all container, reefer, passenger, ro-ro, and tanker vessels visiting larger marine terminals in California will be required to use a CARB approved emissions control strategy that achieves at least an 80% reduction in auxiliary engine emissions during a stay at berth. Most vessels will still have to use shore power in order to ensure compliance, although Gard said that alternatives, such as an emissions capture and control system or another onboard emissions control strategy, could be available. Reductions in emissions from tankers’ auxiliary boilers could be required as well.

Compliance by visiting vessels will not be required until January 1st 2023, from which date, container, reefer and passenger vessels, which are already included under the previous At-Berth Regulation, will transition to the new Control Measure. Ro-ro vessels will need to comply with the new Control Measure starting in 2025. Tankers docking at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach must also comply starting in 2025, while tankers in Northern California have until 2027.

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