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Within the transportation industry, trucks and automobiles catch much of the flak for polluting the environment. But ships, too, have a significant impact on air and water quality. In recent years, environmentalists have begun to criticize certain vessel-operating procedures, including shipowners' reluctance to shut down onboard power plants while in port. Critics claim that this practice, known as cold ironing, contributes significantly to the deterioration of air quality in major port areas, especially Los Angeles/Long Beach. Now, at least one major container carrier is taking steps to reduce its impact on the environment. APL has developed a new fuel-emulsification system, which increases the proportion of water in marine fuel, thereby reducing nitrogen oxide emissions from vessels by up to 20 percent. In partnership with the California Air Resources Board, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, among others, APL will test the new technology on its APL Singapore, a containership with capacity of 5,108 twenty-foot equivalent units, beginning in February. Initial results from the three-year test should be available within a month, the line said, at which point it will begin to determine whether the new fuel mix is harmful to marine engines. If not, APL could begin retrofitting other ships with the technology. Other "green" initiatives being undertaken by APL include the use of cleaner-burning, low-sulphur fuel in auxiliary engines, reducing the impact of cold ironing; slide valves to minimize fuel leakage; and a new lubricating system which neutralizes sulfuric acid. Cost of the fuel emulsification demonstration project is $1.3m, with contributions from seven partner ports and air-quality agencies. The announcement was made in December aboard the APL Singapore, while it was docked at the Port of L.A.-on a day that was marked by a thick band of brown smog encircling the Los Angeles Basin.
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