The commonwealth has applied for a $1.5 million Clean Diesel Emerging Technology grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to upgrade two marine diesel engines in the Pittsburgh area, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced.
"Diesel engines play important roles in our everyday lives, but old, inefficient engines are major sources of air pollution that make it difficult for many people to breathe," Governor Rendell said. "Diesel emissions are not limited to our highways and factories. Marine vessels used at the Port of Pittsburgh are essential to moving freight along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers, but they also diminish the region's air quality.
This ARRA grant would fund an overhaul on both propulsion engines in the Pittsburgh-based vessel Champion Coal, which operates on a 200-mile stretch of the Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Caterpillar dealer Cleveland Brothers in Murrysville will upgrade the tow boat's two engines, which will reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the Governor said the project would also help strengthen the local economy by creating or retaining 32 jobs.
The Port of Pittsburgh is the busiest port in the nation in terms of total commercial vessel trips made according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates Allegheny County has the highest annual emissions from commercial marine vessel activities of any county in the state with 3,500 tons of nitrogen oxides and 110 tons of particulate matter.
The Champion Coal operates about 8,000 hours per year and the upgraded engines would reduce its air emissions by more than 86 tons annually. The vessel also consumes more than 780,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year. The upgraded engines will use up to a five percent less fuel, which equates to an annual savings of 39,088 gallons of fuel, or nearly $86,000.
"This project offers cost-effective emission reductions that are similar to the cost-effectiveness of controls placed on highway vehicles or other types of nonroad equipment," Governor Rendell said. "And because the Champion Coal operates in or near areas with poor air quality including elevated fine particulate and ozone concentrations, higher than average population densities, and sensitive receptor locations like hospitals and schools, it will also help improve the quality of life and health of our citizens."