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West Coast Dock Workers Want Ship Pollution Reduced

Union dockworkers launched a campaign to reduce air pollution from vessels calling at ports along the U.S. West Coast, joining a wider global effort to curb pollution from shipping.

A recently adopted rule requires ships to burn a cleaner marine fuel in auxiliary motors within 24 miles of a California port, but there are no regulations for the main diesel engines, a California Air Resources Board spokesman said.

Without new pollution controls, regulators expect the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will contribute 20 percent of all air pollution in the Los Angeles basin by 2025, regulators predict.

Regulators, in a study last year, said diesel fumes from the two ports -- the busiest U.S. commercial port complex -- raise the risk of cancer for people living up to 15 miles inland.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents 60,000 dockworkers on the West Coast, wants a 20 percent cut in emissions from diesel-fueled vessels calling at West Coast ports by 2010, to include pollution from trucks and cargo-handling equipment on the docks, ILWU President James Spinosa said in a statement.

The union will push shipping lines, state and federal officials, and dockworkers in other countries to use cleaner marine fuels and new technologies to cut back pollution levels.

The report by the California Air Resources Board said 50,000 people living closest to the two ports face a higher-than-average risk of developing cancer from port pollution alone.

Jim McKenna, chief executive of the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents West Coast shipping companies, said "reducing emissions and expanding port capacity are both connected and a priority for the maritime industry."