Shippers moving refrigerated goods into California may soon have more to worry about than temperature fluctuations and high fuel prices. They'll also have to make sure that their reefers are not parked for more than 24 hours at a warehouse. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) plans to impose restrictions on the use of diesel-powered refrigerated containers for extended cold storage at facilities. The agency will begin hearings in 2009 with the goal of implementation of those regulations in early 2011.
CARB's restrictions on temporary cold storage are part of the agency's new environmental standards for diesel-powered in-use transport refrigeration units (TRUs). CARB contends that limiting storage to 24 hours will improve air quality. In a recent speech at the Greening the Supply Chain Conference in Sacramento, Calif., CARB air pollution specialist Rod Hill said that the new restrictions on reefers used for temporary cold storage could prevent 22 tons of diesel particulates from entering the atmosphere each year. "Buildings are more efficient for cold storage," Hill told the conference.
In addition to the parking restrictions, CARB's new rules call for the phase-out of TRUs that are more than seven years old. Operators will be required to retrofit existing units with cleaner-burning diesel engines or buy new reefers. Fleets operating reefers that use alternative technologies, such as electric power, are generally exempt from the regulations. Out-of-state motor carriers and fleets will also have to retrofit or replace noncompliant TRUs before bringing refrigerated products into California.
Both the California Trucking Association (CTA) and American Trucking Associations (ATA) have raised concerns about the practicality and the economic impact of the new regulations. Matt Schrap, CTA's manager of environmental affairs, said retrofit equipment is in limited supply and costs between $5,000 and $8,000 per device. He added that a new reefer trailer meeting CARB's regulations would cost between $30,000 and $80,000.
Schrap also noted that the new regulations will require distribution centers to monitor the trucks bringing reefers into their facilities. "All of CARB's regulations are de facto regulations for the entire country," he said.
Citing the cost burden on out-of-state refrigerated truckers, the ATA has asked the EPA to withhold approval of the regulations, arguing that their cost is disproportionate to the benefits associated with emission reductions from engines that are rarely in the state. ATA spokesman Clayton Boyce said the trucking group's challenge has put the EPA on "alert that this particular regulation and other California proposals affecting out-of-state trucking equipment should not be 'rubber-stamped,' and that every effort needs to be made to mitigate the effect on non-California equipment."