EPA – Cleaner Air Emissions from SI Ferries

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
A on the Staten Island ferry will not only be free, it will be clean - and that's just the beginning of a region-wide effort to clean up the ports in the Northeast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA today joined the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the New York City Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in highlighting the successful clean up of diesel emissions from one of the ferries that transports 19 million people to and from Staten Island each year. Retrofitting the ferry, Alice Austen, has already cut emissions of 16.5 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per year and slashed particulate matter (PM) by 25 percent. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City Department of Transportation also announced that they will build on this success and retrofit more ferries in the fleet. Port Authority Port Commerce Director Richard M. Larrabee said, "We take our role as environmental stewards of the port very seriously, and we believe it is very important to balance our port redevelopment with pro-environment programs. Since we began our 50-foot channel deepening program in 2004, we have launched the pilot program with the Staten Island ferries and the replacement of the tugboat engines, we have purchased environmentally sensitive land in the region for preservation, and we have worked with our port tenants to install modern, cleaner, electric-powered cranes. In an effort to become a model green port, we have embarked on a voluntary Green Port Program that includes implementing an Environmental Management System for our public berths and establishing a Green Practices Task Force with our tenants to identify initiatives to improve air and water quality, reduce waste and conserve energy. We will continue to explore areas where we can improve upon our strong environmental record." The ferry retrofit project is an excellent example of successful partnerships at the state and local levels to improve environmental conditions. Retrofitting the Staten Island ferry fleet was identified as a unique emission reduction opportunity that could lower ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and particulate matter (PM) through the installation of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC). SCR is a control technology added-on to existing equipment to reduce nitrogen oxides to benign gases naturally found in air. Diesel oxidation catalysts are reliable devices that use a chemical process to break down pollutants in the exhaust stream into less harmful components. The SCR and DOC system has been installed in the ferry named Alice Austen and is achieving emission reductions of 16.5 tons per year of NOx as well as 25 percent PM reduction. PM is reduced by 40 percent during the lengthiest portion of operations, periods of cruise between the two islands. Funding for the project was provided through the New York New Jersey Harbor Deepening Project.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey agreed to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the New York City Department of Transportation to set a timeline to retrofit other Staten Island ferries. By 2007, three more ferries will be installed with equipment to cut NOx. To encourage more such partnerships and creative approaches, EPA is hosting a conference on Wednesday, February 1, aimed at reducing the pollutants that spew from area ports each and every day. The workshop is the first high profile effort of the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, a partnership of private, non-profit and government groups in New York, New Jersey and the six New England states working to reduce diesel emissions.

The Northeast Diesel Collaborative will develop strategies to reduce diesel emissions from cars, trucks, buses, trains, boats and construction equipment. To increase public awareness, the Northeast Diesel Collaborative, formed in 2005, will lead a workshop tomorrow on cost-effective, business savvy strategies for reducing diesel emissions in northeast ports. Besides EPA, the collaborative members include the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Tomorrow's ports workshop is part of a broader effort by the Northeast Diesel Collaborative to expand and develop regional partnerships to reduce diesel emissions and protect public health. Diesel exhaust releases into the air particulate matter (PM), ozone-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other gases such as the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2). These pollutants may trigger asthma, lead to serious respiratory illnesses and other harmful health effects. Reducing emissions from diesel engines has been identified as a national priority by EPA and is key to improving air quality.

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