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Clearing the Air at the Port

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)-- Clearing the air, literally. More changes are coming to the Port of Baltimore in an effort to keep it environmentally friendly for the future.

It's a change you'll more or less feel than actually see. The focus of the federal money the port is getting is on reducing harmful air toxins not just affecting employees but the community as well.

The machine that is the Port of Baltimore is one the largest economic engines in all of Maryland, and like any motor - it takes for it to run smoothly.

Trucks, tractors, cranes, you name it, a lot of them run on diesel fuel. In the past, all that exhaust wreaked havoc on neighboring communities like Turner Station.

WJZ talked to one family who's been through it.

"Asthma, and lung diseases, so this makes a big difference," said Larry Bannerman.

For years now the state has been working on cleaning the air by making major equipment changes around the port. A lot of it paid for through federal grants.

"This is the fourth grant in five years that will deal with reduction of diesel emissions," said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin.

This new $1 million grant comes from the U.S. environmental protection agency, specifically aimed at cutting down of diesel emissions.

"In real terms we're talking about impacts on people's lungs and people's breathing," said Shawn Gavin of the EPA.

The money will be used for upgrades or replacement of diesel engines and anti-idling devices for trains that move around the port.

The grant is an expansion of the port's "Clean Diesel Program." Between diesel powered equipment changes and dray truck replacements the effort has eliminated nearly 9,000 tons of pollution from the air.

"The Port of Baltimore can be a driver for the City and the region even while we're trying to improve the parks and wildlife habitat around the port," said Nate Loewentheil of the National Economic Council.

Environmental experts told WJZ all the changes will also help reduce other harmful levels of air pollutants like carbon monoxide. The changes will also save thousands of gallons of diesel fuel.

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