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Report: Charleston Port Reducing Air Emissions

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File photo of flowers growing in clean air. (Photo by CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of flowers growing in clean air. (Photo by CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Efforts to improve air quality at the Port of Charleston are paying off with a sharp reduction in pollutants in recent years, according to a report released Monday.

The report, compiled by the consulting firm of Moffat and Nichol, compares pollutants from port-related activities in 2011 to a 2005 baseline of such pollution compiled in an earlier study.

The latest report found that newer, cleaner engines for trucks and other port equipment have led to a 51 percent decrease in carbon monoxide and a 26 percent in hydrocarbons released into the air. The consultants analyzed a 2,500-square-mile area extending from the mouth of Charleston Harbor shipping channel inland to include Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.

“New international fuel standards as well as efforts by the maritime community mean that our air quality continues to show improvement,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

New rules require the use of low-sulfur fuels for oceangoing vessels calling in North America. Those rules took effect in 2011 and are not reflected in the new report.

The report found that emissions from cargo handling equipment such as cranes resulted in a 57 percent reduction in particulate matter and a 99 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide.

The authority began using ultra-low sulfur in its handling equipment in 2007, three years before it was required by federal law. The authority has used federal grants to put newer, more efficient and less polluting engines on 21 gantry cranes and 35 container handlers.

The agency also has a program to get older trucks that frequently call at the port off the road.

That program started almost two years ago allows truckers driving trucks that are at least 20 years old to get a $10,000 incentive toward buying a newer vehicle. Truckers also get the scrap value of their old truck from a local recycler, usually around $2,000

Half of the $10,000 incentive is paid by the Ports Authority, while the other half is paid through a federal grant. So far, 60 of the older trucks have been removed from the road.

Efforts to reduce pollution should also have benefits across the state in the future.

The authority recently broke ground on a new inland port in Greer in upstate South Carolina.

The port is designed to more efficiently move containers and other goods by rail to Charleston. It’s estimated that, when operational, it will eliminate 50,000 truck trips a year on busy Interstate 26 from the Greenville-Spartanburg area to the coast.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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