A landmark ban on old and dirty diesel rigs at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has so far gone smoothly on the first day of enforcement Wednesday, according to port and trucking authorities.

Long Beach terminal authorities had turned away only a "handful" of trucks in the morning that did not have access permits, and issued about two dozen temporary permits to other truckers, said Art Wong, a spokesman for the port.

And in Los Angeles, authorities turned away less than 5 percent of trucks that did not have clean air concession stickers, said spokesman Arley Baker. "Things are going really well," Baker said. "We haven't had any big mishaps."

The $1.6 billion Clean Trucks Program aims to reduce diesel by 80 percent within five years, starting with a ban on trucks built before 1989. By 2012, all trucks entering the ports will be required to meet 2007 vehicle emission standards.

The Port of Long Beach has distributed access permits to about 15,000 truckers so far. The Port of Los Angeles has distributed around 20,000 concession stickers, officials said.

Trucking firms are required to obtain a concession from the ports and dispatch only drivers who have undergone a security background check and obtained a federal transportation worker identification credential. In addition, the Los Angeles port has banned independent owner operators and is requiring drivers to be employed by licensed trucking firms with a concession.
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Traffic at both ports appeared down Wednesday morning after some trucking companies moved shipments last night to avoid any potential problems this morning.

Curtis Whalen, executive director of the intermodal motor carriers conference of the American Trucking Associations Inc., said he had reports from members that the ports were "basically a ghost town."

But Whalen said he didn't expect the lighter traffic to impact shipments going through the nation's largest seaport. "There don't seem to be many problems," he said. "It appears to be business as usual."

Wong acknowledged that truck traffic was down about 10 to 20 percent this morning. "It wouldn't surprise me if things are a little lighter for the next couple days until people realize that things are going smoothly," he said.

The American Trucking Associations contends that the concession violates federal trade laws and has sought an injunction blocking implementation of the program. A federal judge in Los Angeles and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the request last month. The ATA plans to appeal the ruling.

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