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Port of Houston Authority, EPA, Maersk, Hamburg Sud and Mexican Government Receive Binational Gulf Guardian Award

Release Date: 07/29/2011
Contact Information: Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or www.epa.gov/gmpo

Port of Houston Authority, EPA, Maersk, Hamburg Sud and Mexican Government Receive Binational Gulf Guardian Award

(STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. July 29, 2011) – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced winners of the Gulf Guardian Award for 2011 in the Binational Category. The Port of Houston Authority, Maersk, Hamburg Süd, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Mexican government, including the State of Veracruz, SEMARNAT (Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturals, Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources) and PEMEX, received the award for their cooperative project to conduct the first fuel-switches in the Gulf of Mexico and study the environmental benefits of switching to lower sulfur diesel (1000 ppm) on ocean-going vessels. The Awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Meeting on August 3, 2011, beginning at 6 p.m in the Ballroom at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place in New Orleans.

The project successfully demonstrated the benefits of the lower sulfur fuel. On-board emission testing showed that fuel-switching to MGO with a fuel sulfur content of less than 0.1 percent in the Gulf of Mexico led to large reductions of sulfur oxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions. The Maersk Roubaix total emission reductions for fuel switches conducted at both the Port of Houston and the Port of Progreso amounted to 0.24 tons of PM2.5 (87% reduction) and 2.05 tons of SOx (94% reduction). The Hamburg Süd Cap San Lorenzo total emission reductions for fuel switches conducted at the Port of Houston, Port of Veracruz and Port of Altamira were 0.17 tons of PM2.5 (54% reduction) and 3.13 tons of SOx (99.7% reduction).

The fuel switching conducted by these ships is the same practice that will be required by the North American Emission Control Area, which ECA mandates that within 200 nautical miles, vessels switch fuel to lower sulfur with a maximum of 0.1 percent sulfur content starting in August 2012. This project showcased fuel-switching in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the NA ECA; while providing confirmation of its feasibility and effectiveness in the Gulf of Mexico. During the demonstrations, the vessels tested did not encounter any operational issues or concerns from the fuel-switching. This project has led to other major fuel-switching projects conducted at the Port Authority. By successfully demonstrating fuel-switching in the three Mexican ports, this project has elevated awareness of the human health and ecological benefits for the Mexican government and has educated their officials, about the efficacy of fuel switching provisions, such as those in the NA ECA, for reducing air pollution from ships.
The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First-, second- and third-place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

"The Gulf Guardian Award winners demonstrate great examples of collaborative efforts leading to solutions that address the Gulf of Mexico environment," said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz. "Their accomplishments are making a positive difference in protecting and restoring the Gulf and EPA is pleased to recognize their environmental stewardship."

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Gloria Car, Acting Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program, said, “This is the 11th year of the Gulf Guardian Awards Program, and I am proud to say that each year the winners in all categories have represented the very best of environmental accomplishments in the Gulf of Mexico. The partnership of the Gulf of Mexico Program works to improve the environmental health of the Gulf, and the Gulf Guardian Awards is an important way for us to recognize these valuable efforts. The 2011 award winners truly exemplify the enthusiastic and committed citizens, communities, governments, and businesses that address complex problems to improve, protect, and sustain our regional and national treasure, the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information regarding this cooperative, binational, fuel-switching demonstration, please contact Dana Blume, Environmental Affairs Department Manager, at (713) 650-2650

Editor’s Notes: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo.