Peninsula port agency may join bigger agencies in cutting ship emissions

On the North Olympic Peninsula – which fronts the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the tanker ship highway to bigger ports – there is only so much that port authorities can do to reduce air emissions.

Of the 753 tons of diesel particulate matter emitted in 2005 in the Olympic region – Clallam, Jefferson, Mason and Thurston counties – 495 were from maritime-related industries, according to a study released in April.

And of those 495 tons, 442 tons, or 89 percent, came from large vessels transiting – coming or going  – from various ports.

“What’s being done currently with Port Angeles is not much,” said Richard Stedman, executive director of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency based in Olympia.

The clean air agency can fine vessels that are anchored in harbors – such as Port Angeles Harbor – that are running engines emitting smoke that is too dark and dense.

But unless the ships dock at a public port, there is nothing the region’s primary industrial ports – the Port of Port Angeles and the Port of Olympia – can do to cut emissions from vessels, he said.

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