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VIT and MTC blaze green trail

VIT and MTC blaze green trail

Virginia International Terminals Inc. (VIT) on July 31 completed its first month of operation using ultra low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) fuel, a switch that comes nearly three years ahead of a federally-mandated change for ports to use cleaner-burning fuel in their equipment. International stevedore and terminal operating company Marine Terminals Corp, meanwhile, has gone beyond mandated requirements for cargo-handling equipment set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

Joseph A. Dorto, general manager of VIT, the private terminal operating company of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA), said: “We knew we were going to make this change and the decision was to go ahead and get moving now, ahead of the deadline, in case there were issues that needed to be ironed out. It has been a seamless transition and I expect the benefits to outweigh the costs.”

By order of the US Environmental Protection Agency, all ports had to begin using ULSD by July 1, 2007, while by July 1, 2010 all ports must be using the fuel. VIT owns 500 pieces of equipment that are capable of burning ULSD, all of which are now powered by it.

ULSD can be used in all diesel-powered equipment without changes to the engine and can provide an average across-the-board emissions reduction of 10%, according to Heather Mantz, the VPA’s environmental director. In fiscal 2008, there will be $35m available in federal grants to be used for retrofitting diesel equipment at ports.

MTC’s General Stevedoring Division meanwhile is scheduled to accomplish its green conversion goal well ahead of the CARB-mandated deadlines. The division made the decision to replace some equipment earlier than required and to buy new, cleaner equipment rather than retrofit older machines.

In Vancouver, Wash., MTC has invested more than US$1m in two reachstackers, which it is using for delivering wind power project cargo discharged from vessels. Additionally, it is replacing half of its UTRs in 2007 and the remaining half in 2008 with cleaner-burning and more fuel-efficient models.

The CARB regulations require all older yard tractors (pre-2003) to have their engines replaced by 2010 with ones that meet EPA 2007 standards. Tractor engines of 2003–2006 vintage need to be replaced within 10 years with EPA 2010 standard engines. Other cargo-handling equipment either needs to be replaced with off-road engines meeting Tier 4 standards, or outfitted with a CARB verified diesel emission control device (VDEC). Compliance dates range from 2008 to 2012, depending upon the age of the equipment.