The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) hailed Maersk Line’s recent cleaner air efforts by switching to less-toxic, lower-sulfur fuels in all of its ships calling at California ports, but said much more still needs to be done to save lives threatened by port pollution. Maersk’s move only has it adhering to the legal mandates the California Air Resources Board is requiring of all shipping lines in the next seven months.

‘The ILWU calls on Maersk and all other multinational shipping lines, along with port commissions, to implement measures to reduce overall vessels’ emissions by at least 20% by 2010 all over the West Coast,’ ILWU International President James Spinosa said.

‘With the new effective technologies now available, there is no excuse for shipping lines to continue making record profits at the expense of the lives of workers and communities in the ports.’

Portside communities like San Pedro and West Oakland’already suffering from elevated levels of respiratory disease’desperately need the entire shipping industry to implement meaningful emissions reduction measures now.

The ILWU has long demanded that the Pacific Maritime Association and its member companies work to mitigate diesel emissions in the ports, but these demands have been met repeatedly with resistance and claims that such mitigations were too costly. Because of this resistance, the Union launched its ‘Saving Lives’ campaign in January 2006 at the Faster Freight Cleaner Air Conference and plans to continue pressuring the shipping lines to reduce emissions on the West Coast and in all ports, domestically and internationally, wherever their vessels call.