EPA Grant to Reduce Port Pollution, Camden, N.J.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1.1m to upgrade 48 pieces of cargo handling equipment at the South Jersey Port in Camden, N.J. Older diesel engines generate significant amounts of fine particles, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, which are released into the air and can contribute to severe respiratory ailments and trigger asthma.

The grant will provide for the installation of improved engines on port vehicles including fork lifts, lift trucks, front end loaders and other types of port equipment. EPA’s commitment advances one of the Agency’s priorities, environmental justice, ensuring that everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards. The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management will also utilize $1.4m in EPA funding to repower 16 construction cranes with cleaner engines and install a diesel particulate filter on a repowered crane in areas throughout N.Y. and N.J. in a separate but related project.

“Reducing air pollution from diesel engines will help communities such as Camden that are already negatively impacted by air pollution,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has emphasized the importance of building strong relationships with overburdened communities. Addressing the local environmental impacts of shipping at the nation’s ports is a priority for EPA.”

Waterfront South and South Central Camden have one of the highest concentrations of contaminated sites and operating facilities that are sources of air pollution sources in all of New Jersey. With 1,700 residents living nearby, the area has two EPA Superfund sites and over a dozen contaminated sites identified by the state.

Camden has one of the highest population densities in New Jersey and is home to many industrial and manufacturing facilities. It is located near major highways, and hosts the South Jersey Port, rail operations and distribution centers. The South Jersey Port Corporation is an agency of the State of New Jersey that owns, operates and manages the ports of Camden and Salem, overseeing the import and export of four million tons of international bulk and container cargos annually into and through the Southern New Jersey region.

The project will:
•    save over 64,000 gallons of fuel
•    reduce carbon dioxide by over 715 tons
•    reduce nitrogen oxide by over 352 tons
•    reduce particulate matter by over 34 tons – all during the lifetime of the equipment
•    EPA estimates that for every dollar invested in reducing diesel exhaust, a community will see up to $13 in public health benefits.

Nationwide, diesel engines emit 7.3 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and 333,000 tons of soot annually. This pollution is linked to thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and millions of lost work days. The particles in diesel exhaust can penetrate deep into the lungs and pose serious health risks, including increasing the risk of cancer and aggravating the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems in healthy individuals. In addition, diesel exhaust contributes to already unhealthy ozone levels. Camden has unhealthy air and does not meet air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate matter.

The South Jersey Port in Camden has a greater tendency, compared to ports with much larger budgets, to hold on to its cargo handling equipment rather than replacing it with newer models. As a result, the average life span of a typical piece of equipment at the port is 22 years. Due to this advanced age of the fleet, the older engine technology in use results in considerably higher particulate matter and nitrogen oxides.

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