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Emissions Facts

The Bechtel-Shell plants will bring a number of sources of pollution into Vallejo:

  • The power plant
  • The LNG ships
  • The diesel-fueled dredgers, tugs and Coast Guard security vessels
  • Helicopters
The Power Plant

According to Shell, the 900-megawatt power plant alone will release over 1,692 tons per year (that's 4.9 tons per day!) of smog-producing, asthma-aggravating greenhouse gasses and cancer-causing toxic pollutants into Vallejo's air. The following represent some of the emissions from the proposed power plant:

  • 201.9 tons of Nitrogen Oxides (403,800 pounds)
  • 876.3 tons of Carbon Monoxide (1,752,600 pounds)
  • 41.7 tons of Volatile Organic Compounds such as Benzene (a known human carcinogen), Hydrocarbons (many known to cause cancer), and Reactive/Precursor Compounds (83,400 pounds)
  • 129.6 tons of PM-10 (very detrimental to health, as these particulates readily lodge in the lungs and cause toxic effects; 259,200 pounds)
  • 18.3 tons of Sulfur Dioxide (a criteria pollutant that causes acid rain; 36,600 pounds).

These levels of contamination consider only the proposed power plant, and do not consider the transport ships, LNG offloading, regasification facility, dredging, pipelines, trucking, and/or accidents at the facility.

Marine Vessel Emissions

LNG tanker emissions and the emissions of other so-called "secondary sources" are a major health concern. These marine vessels are not subject to Bay Area or EPA emissions regulations, though they may be subject to CEQA review. So far, Bechtel-Shell have avoided any public discussion of the significant emissions from secondary sources, other than to say that they should not be regulated because they are not attached to the land, according to Shell's David Thomson.

Unfortunately, unlike attempts to mitigate power plant emissions with 160-foot stacks, there is no way to redirect emissions from the vessels away from our town or our neighbors downwind.

LNG Tanker Emissions

The LNG tankers are powered by huge steam turbines, which are fueled by LNG, diesel and bunker fuel. Shell’s David Thomson, a former LNG ship captain, stated that these tankers will burn 100 tons per day of fuel, three times per week during their 24-hour turnaround and offloading time at the south end of Mare Island. Diesel and bunker fuel make up 20 percent of that amount -- 3,120 tons. The total fuel burned from the LNG tankers alone would be:

  • 100 tons per day, three days per week
  • 156 days per year
  • 15,600 tons per year
Emissions from Dredgers, Tugs and Coast Guard Security Vessels

Extensive and constant use of diesel-powered vessels will contribute significantly to the toxic emissions. Along with the LNG Tankers, these vessels contribute so-called "secondary emissions", which are not subject to EPA regulations, and use diesel, one of the dirtiest and most harmful of the commercial fossil fuels.

Dredgers will contribute significantly to toxic emissions. Dredging to maintain the turning basin and offloading terminal for the LNG ships will be virtually constant because the Napa River produces a high amount of silt. In addition, massive dredging will be required to deepen ten miles of the Pinole Shoal.

Multiple tugboats and Coast Guard security vessels will operate alongside the LNG tankers three days a week.

UPDATE! Bechtel-Shell Admit Marine Vessel Emissions Will Exceed Power Plant Emissions!

On November 13, 2002, David Stein from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District addressed the City's Health and Safety Subcommittee. Mr. Stein revealed that he had been given emissions data by Bechtel-Shell for one tanker and one tugboat, and that those emissions alone would exceed the power plant emissions!

Curiously, this is an underestimate of the actual emissions for the marine vessels because Bechtel-Shell left out the multiple tugboats, the coast guard escort vessels, and the constant use of diesel-fueled dredgers.

Diesel Risks and Lack of Regulation of Marine Vessel Emissions

There are no standards for foreign-flag vessels entering U.S. ports -- all LNG ships are foreign flag. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering extending certain regulations to foreign-built vessels, but is receiving heavy opposition from the shipping industry. The EPA recognizes that marine vessel emissions are a major concern and is currently proposing regulations that would require all future marine vessels built in the U.S. to comply with emissions standards.

Diesel particulate matter is a huge modern health problem, accounting for “70 percent of the total toxic risk to Californians from air pollution," according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Diesel has recently been added to California’s Proposition 65 hazardous substance list, and garnered attention after the release of studies in early 2002 confirming that diesel’s toxic particulates cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. More on diesel pollution

Emissions Mitigation

One of Bechtel-Shell's recent ad campaigns was designed to lessen concerns about emissions from their proposed project. They offer the solution of “emissions offsets” that will allegedly “Clear the Air in Vallejo."

The problem with this ad campaign is that it omits a critical fact that most Vallejo and Solano County residents would need to know -- that the impact of emissions trading on air pollution will be regional, not local. While the air may become cleaner elsewhere, it will become dirtier in Vallejo.

To begin operating their power plant in Vallejo, Bechtel-Shell would be required to trade "emissions credits" with other polluting businesses. These businesses could be located anywhere in the huge 600-square mile, nine-county Bay Area Air Quality Management District. This would include counties as far away as Santa Clara and San Mateo.

Unfortunately, because there are no "point sources" of pollution in our area that can be scaled back enough to compensate for the massive increase in pollutants from the power plant alone, Bechtel-Shell will have to go elsewhere to look for a business that will stop polluting so they can start polluting here. Bechtel-Shell would pay these businesses to pollute less to compensate for increasing Vallejo's air pollution.

No Mitigation of the Massive Marine Vessel Emissions

Even more egregious is Bechtel-Shell's concealment of the fact that they would not be required to mitigate the massive amounts of pollution from the marine vessels. This is because of the regulatory structure - as long as the power plant emissions falls below a certain level, they local regulators will not consider emissions from the marine vessels - despite the fact that they will exceed the power plant's.

So while emissions will be lowered in that other community, the Bay Area will suffer a net increase in emissions - because only the power plant emissions would be mitigated - the ships and boats will cause our overall Bay Area pollution to increase. And here, in Vallejo and Solano County, we will suffer from a major local increase in pollution.

Related Links:
Emissions Banking Information
Detailed discussion of Vallejo's Air Quality and impact of the project emissions Environmental Scientist Gayle Edmisten Watkin

© 2002 maggdog communications
Photos courtesy of Michael Halberstadt, Joyce Scharf and Friends of VallejoCPR
Page Last Updated Jan 8, 2003