Some drayage companies in Southern California are violating the spirit, if not the letter of the Los Angeles and Long Beach clean-truck requirements, and the ports intend to end these practices soon.
Thomas Jelenic, assistant director of environmental planning at the Port of Long Beach, said there has been a proliferation this past year of Class 7 trucks calling at the marine terminals.
The ports' clean-truck programs requiring the phasing out of old, polluting trucks and replacing them with 2007-model or newer trucks applies to larger Class 8 tractor trailers. Therefore, older Class 7 trucks, which weigh 26,000 to 33,000 pounds, are operating legally in the harbor.
By The Numbers: Containerized Ocean Trade - Southern California Ports.
One year ago, the ports' drayage truck registry recorded only 35 Class 7 trucks in the harbor. Now there are 500, and they account for about 2 percent of the gate moves at the ports, Jelenic told a dinner meeting of the Harbor Trucking Association Wednesday.
These older trucks are confined primarily to hauling bare chassis and empty containers because of their weight limitations, but there is no doubt they are taking business away from the motor carriers that have invested in costly new clean trucks, he said.
Both ports are determined to phase the Class 7 trucks out of the harbor, but they are still attempting to determine what a reasonable schedule would be. For example, the ports are investigating whether some of the Class 7 operators have contracts with customers that would be violated if they were suddenly banned from the harbor.
Also, the California Air Resources Board, which has a drayage truck rule for the entire state, is expected to take up the Class 7 issue when it meets on Dec. 16. However, CARB's drayage truck rule has a longer timeline for banning older trucks than the Los Angeles-Long Beach clean-truck programs have.
Jelenic said the CARB ban would begin in 2014. "No one would be satisfied with a 2014 date," he said.
Vic LaRosa, president of Total Transportation Services in Long Beach, elicited a cheer from the truckers when he told Jelenic the Class 7 operators were looking for a loophole in the clean-truck programs and now they are taking business away from motor carriers that have invested in costly new trucks. "Make it a quick phase-out," he said.
Some truckers are also circumventing the clean-truck requirements by using a few compliant trucks to dray containers from the terminals to nearby off-dock transfer sites where the containers are picked up by older, non-compliant trucks.
"This is clearly in violation of the spirit of the clean-truck plan," Jelenic said. However, the ports have not been able to determine the extent of the problem so they have yet to define a solution.
Meanwhile, CARB at its Dec. 16 meeting is expected to take up the issue under its drayage truck rule and is considering "expansive rules" to end the practice of dray-offs, Jelenic said. CARB has already determined that a marine container that is not unloaded at a warehouse is subject to the rule no matter how many times it is touched, he said.
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