The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are the nation's two largest ports. Not surprisingly, the many operations at the Ports generate diesel engine exhaust. Operations involving the use of diesel fuel include: (i) cargo and cruise ships arriving and docking at the Ports, (ii) trucks and trains moving goods; and (iii) terminal equipment loading and unloading cargo.

Diesel engines have been in use for many decades. Only recently have alternative fuel blends or modified diesel engines become available. Some operators at the Ports voluntarily have converted to using newly available fuels and engines in place of standard fuels or older engines for some of their operations. In addition, California laws are mandating changes in Port operations which already do, or will, require newer, cleaner burning engines and fuels.

Diesel engines produce smoke as a by-product of the combustion of diesel fuel. The smoke contains gas compounds and fine particles (called "soot" or "particulate matter"). On October 1, 1990 the State of California listed diesel engine exhaust as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer pursuant to Proposition 65, also known as "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986". In 1998, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment ("OEHHA") added diesel engine exhaust to the State's list of toxic air contaminants.

In 2008, pursuant to Proposition 65, the Attorney General of California reached an agreement to provide warnings to the community with the operators at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles listed here. Proposition 65 requires a "clear and reasonable" warning be given for listed chemicals, such as diesel engine exhaust, and the components of that exhaust, that cause cancer or reproductive harm.

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