Fellow Story

Fruin quoted on China Shipping pollution in Port of L.A.

The Port of Los Angeles paid a Chinese government-owned shipping company $5 million in 2005 to equip cargo vessels to plug into electric shore power while at dock to keep their massive diesel engines from polluting neighborhoods near the harbor.

The company, China Shipping, used the money to upgrade 17 ships, but the city didn't get all the promised environmental benefits. Most of the vessels stopped traveling to Los Angeles in 2010, a Times review of shipping industry data showed.

The ships that took their place on the Asia-to-Los Angeles route were not all equipped for shore power. From 2010 to 2013, a period in which residents were promised that virtually every vessel docked at the terminal would plug in, half left their engines running, port records show. In 2012, 88% left their engines running.


Scott Fruin, a professor of preventive medicine at USC and an expert in assessing exposure to air pollution, said port officials underestimated the health consequences. A proper analysis would have shown that allowing ships at the terminal to idle rather than plug in would increase cancer risk to about 18 in 1 million, Fruin said.

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