California fines Chinese shipper for clean-air violations

The following is the text of a news release from the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resource Board (ARB):

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — The California Air Resources Board has fined the China Navigation Co. Pte. Ltd. $129,500 for failure to switch its engines over from heavy diesel “bunker” fuel to cleaner, low-sulfur fuel when close to the California coast, as required by state law. ARB’s Ocean Going Vessel Fuel regulation is a critical part of California’s plan to attain air quality standards in Southern California and across the state.  

On Dec. 28, 2012, an ARB inspector found that the vessel Chenan, managed by the China Navigation Co. Pte. Ltd., operated within regulated California waters (i.e. 24 miles or less from the coast) on noncompliant heavy fuel oil on 12 separate days (four voyages) between Aug. 5 and Dec. 28, 2012, while en route to and departing from the Port of Los Angeles.

“Ships using heavy diesel fuels are a significant contributor to California’s air quality problems, even in communities located far from our coast,” said ARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax. “That’s why we check vessels nearly every day to ensure that they are compliant with our strict clean air laws. When we identify a violation, we educate the fleet owner and crew on how to comply with our requirements, and we assess penalties as a deterrent to future noncompliance.”  

China Navigation Co. Pte. Ltd. took prompt action after being notified of these violations and cooperated with the investigation. In addition to paying a fine, the company agreed to comply with all fuel switchover requirements and to keep accurate records going forward.

The Air Resources Board conducts an estimated 800 to 1,000 ship inspections each year, checking for proper fuel usage, record-keeping and other compliance requirements. Part of the inspection involves sampling each vessel’s fuel, and analyzing the fuel sample for compliance with ARB fuel sulfur requirements.  

The Ocean Going Vessel Fuels Regulation, adopted in 2008, eliminates 15 tons of diesel exhaust — a known carcinogen — daily from oceangoing vessels, and is considered a vital tool in helping to reduce cancer rates and premature deaths associated with living near the state’s busy ports and trade corridors.
Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and over 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. In 1998, California identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death and other health problems.

By Professional Mariner Staff