Ships sailing into the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports are skirting a California Air Resources Board fuel standard by avoiding the traditional shipping lane, instead taking a riskier route.
The CARB regulation calls for all ocean-going vessels within 24 nautical miles of the coast to use pricey lower-sulfur marine distillates fuel, which burns cleaner than heavy-fuel oil.
However, because complying with the CARB rule would add $30,000 per port visit for most oceangoing vessels, they are taking a route that allows them to sail fewer miles within the regulated zone, reports the New York Times.
Some in the shipping industry also are of the notion that the new fuel increases wear and tear on engines.
So instead of taking the internationally-recognized route through the Santa Barbara Channel, ships are traversing south of the Channel Islands, where there are no formal shipping lanes.
Critics say this increases the risk of collision, especially now that about half of all traffic at the ports is going this route, compared to about 7 percent before the rule took effect.
The newly preferred route also goes through heavily used portions of the Navy’s Point Mugu Sea Range, where military exercises such as missile tests are conducted.