Study of Port of Oakland Truck Emissions Reported at Hearing

August 15th 2011

Recently, EETD's Thomas Kirchstetter, and Tim Dallman and Robert Harley of the University of California, Berkeley, presented the results of a study on the emissions of PM (particulate matter) and NOx (nitrogen oxides) from trucks at the Port of Oakland. The occasion was an August 4th hearing in Oakland, California, convened by Alameda County supervisors to discuss requirements that trucks accessing the Port reduce the pollution they emit.

Communities near ports, rail yards and trucking hubs experience a disproportionately high level of PM emissions. These emissions are suspected to have human health impacts.

Most of the trucks entering the Port had higher pollution emissions rates compared to new trucks. The California Air Resources Board adopted a rule requiring, in its first phase, the replacement or PM-reduction retrofit of trucks of model years 2003 or older entering the Port of Oakland by the start of 2010. Pre-1994 models were prohibited. More than 1,300 trucks were retrofit with diesel particle control filters. Retrofits were paid in part by $25 million in grants from CARB, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the Port of Oakland. Truck owners paid a portion of the costs.

The study conducted by Kirchstetter, Dallman, and Harley measured the emissions rates of PM and NOx from hundreds of trucks at the Port to determine the effects of the CARB regulation. The team made their measurements in November 2009 and June 2010. Most of the changes to Port trucks occurred between these periods.

At the hearing, Kirchstetter reported their finding that the CARB regulation resulted in a 50 percent decrease in PM emission rates, and a 40 percent reduction in NOx. Moreover, the accelerated clean-up at the Port reduced truck emissions in the span of a few months by the about same amount that at another location not subject to the CARB rule took ten years.