Five years after federal regulators discovered that ports contributed to a third of the worst air pollution in the Puget Sound area, a new survey reported Tuesday that toxic exhaust has declined by as much as 50 percent at the ports, the Seattle Times said.
According to the Times, toxic exhaust from heavy trucks serving the port is down 50 percent from its level in 2005, while exhaust from trains is down 25 percent. Diesel emissions from oceangoing ships, which account for more than 60 percent of the maritime industry's air pollution, is down 16 percent.
The reduction in emissions is due in part to stricter federal standards and in part to efforts by the state, the Times said. After a 2007 study revealed the level of emissions from the ports, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington offered grants to help tug companies re-power boats with cleaner engines.
The ports also launched programs to reduce emissions after the 2007 study was released. According to the Times, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma subsidized fuel for vessels that used fuel lower in sulfur than what the EPA required. The Port of Seattle also offered incentives for truckers to drive vehicles with cleaner-burning engines.
The Port of Seattle has spent $5.7 million on efforts to reduce air emissions, the Times said.
A more comprehensive report on emissions, which will include an update on the ports' contribution to area air emissions, will be released in 2013.