Emissions surged at the Port of Los Angeles (LA) in 2021 due to supply chain disruption and huge queues of vessels in San Pedro Bay.

Marcus Hand | Oct 07, 2022

The Port of Los Angeles latest Inventory of Air Emissions showed sharp increases in emissions in 2021 and the port said that the results were “significantly impacted” by vessels anchored outside the port complex.

“Compared with 2020, emissions of diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) increased 56%, 54% and 145% respectively,” the Port of LA said.

Last year saw queues of ships outside the ports of LA and Long Beach grow to unprecedented levels with over 100 vessels anchored in San Pedro Bay, some for over three weeks, waiting to berth.

“The environmental impact of a congested supply chain was evident last year,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “The backlog of ships sitting outside San Pedro Bay was significant. Fortunately, industry stakeholders took steps in the fourth quarter to reduce at-anchorage vessels to ease the impact on residents and workers in the San Pedro Bay and throughout the South Coast Air Basin.

A new queuing system in late 2021 shifted waiting vessels out hundreds of miles over the horizon from the ports complex reducing the queue in San Pedro Bay by more than 90%. Congestion at the port of LA has also reduced significantly with the US West Coast saying recently that it had spare capacity.

As result of the surge in emissions in 2021 NOx emissions reductions no longer meet targets set in 2005 under the San Pedro Bay Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP). NOx emissions are now 44% below 2005 levels, compared to the 59% CAAP goal.

DPM and SOx emissions continue to meet 2005 targets. DPM reductions now 84% below 2005 levels, compared to the 77% CAAP goal and SOx reductions are now 95% below 2005 levels, compared to the 93% CAAP goal.