California Law Mandating Reduction in Diesel Emissions

At the Port of Oakland the cargo ships docked there can be as much as ten-stories tall and as long as three football fields from end to end. There is constant motion while variously colored containers are loaded and unloaded onto vessels from some of the world’s most popular shipping firms such as Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Co, and Tanker Pacific.

But if you look carefully you will see one ship is different. On this particular vessel, the APL, there are two thick cables resembling giant extension cords, which in a certain sense is what they are.  The cords hang off the ship and connect it to the dock in a process which is known as “cold-ironing.”

The cables are part of the cold-ironing system, designed to reduce diesel emissions at the port. The APL is just the first of its kind using the system, with more ships soon to join from such giant shipping companies like Tanker Pacific, Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co. The boats will be turning off their diesel engines when portside, and instead electricity will be the source of power for the boat’s many docked operations.

The California law is requiring half of all shipping firms’ fleets be equipped with the capability to cold-iron at all California ports by the year 2014. Today there are only a small number of ships which have installed the technology needed to cold-iron in California, and the APL Singapore is the only vessel which docks at the Port of Oakland to actually implement this method of powering the anchored ship.

The president of APL Americas, Gene Seroka said to the press on the occasion of inaugurating their boat’s new  cold-ironing system that, “APL will eliminate 50,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide here at the Port of Oakland, that’s what creates smog and that makes our air cleaner.”


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