The South Coast Air Quality Management District has begun accepting bids from firms to study the effects of shutting down generators aboard ships berthed at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The study would determine the effect on local air pollution as well as the safety issues involved.
The study was ordered after ship owners and the ports complained about the AQMD proposal to force merchant vessels to use dockside electrical power while berthed. The AQMD said the shutdown would substantially reduce levels of smog in the Los Angeles Basin.
Ship owners dispute that claim and say the plan would cost more than $200 million to implement. They say the cost would force them to reroute their ships to ports in San Francisco and Seattle. A Coast Guard study showed that shutting down the shipboard generators might cause safety problems in case of a wharf fire, because it would take three to six hours for the ships to then generate enough power to take to sea.
The Coast Guard also was concerned that tidal surges might rip apart the ship-to-dock electrical hookups, increasing the fire hazard.