The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recent settlements with Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC, and the United States General Services Administration that require upgraded diesel particulate filters on their truck fleets to resolve alleged violations of California’s Truck and Bus Regulation.
Wal-Mart will also fund an environmental project to reduce air pollution at schools in the Los Angeles area.
“EPA will continue to ensure that all trucking fleets operating in California comply with the state’s air pollution rules,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, on Wednesday. “Working with our state and local partners, EPA will help achieve cleaner air throughout California.”
“California Air Resources Board rules are designed to protect public health by ensuring all Californians breathe clean air,” said Todd Sax, head of CARB’s Enforcement Division. “We appreciate our partners at U.S. EPA who are helping to achieve federal air quality standards throughout the State.”
Wal-Mart will pay $300,000 for the installation of air filtration systems at one or more schools near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These systems will reduce exposure to ultrafine particulate matter, black carbon, and fine particulate matter emitted from vehicles operating on highways near the school sites. The filters are expected to be installed in schools in early 2018.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will work with contractors to verify the performance of the systems and training of school staff to ensure their proper operation. The project includes several years’ worth of replacement filters, depending on how many schools are selected. The filters are expected to remove more than 90 percent of ultra-fine particulate matter and black carbon, based on independent testing.
“The funds from this settlement will go to schools that are hardest hit by air pollution from diesel engines due to their proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” said Wayne Nastri, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “This is yet another effort by SCAQMD and its partners to protect the health and safety of children and families who face the direct impacts of harmful emissions from mobile sources in the Southland.”
Children’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution while at school is a concern because many schools across the country are located near heavily traveled roadways and children are particularly vulnerable to air traffic pollution. Studies have shown that improved indoor air quality in classrooms increases productivity and improves attendance and performance in both adults and students.
Diesel emissions from trucks are one of the state’s largest sources of fine particle pollution, or soot, which has been linked to a variety of illnesses, including asthma, impaired lung development in children, and cardiovascular problems in adults.
About 625,000 trucks are registered outside of California, but operate in the state and are subject to the rule. Many of these vehicles are older models which emit large amounts of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx). The rule, which requires diesel trucks and buses operating in California to be upgraded to reduce diesel emissions, is an essential part of the state’s plan to attain cleaner air.
Wal-Mart Transportation, LLC, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., supports 14 distribution centers and 304 retail units in California. Between 2012 and 2014, the company failed to upgrade 19 of its heavy-duty trucks with required diesel particulate filters and failed to verify that carriers it hired to transport goods in California complied with the Truck and Bus Regulation.
Wal-Mart has paid a $100,000 penalty and taken steps to ensure future compliance.
GSA is a federal agency that owns and maintains diesel-fueled vehicles driven in California. Between 2012 and 2017, GSA failed to upgrade more than 200 of its heavy-duty trucks with required diesel particulate filters or 2010 engines.
GSA has paid a $485,000 penalty and taken steps to ensure future compliance.
The California Truck and Bus Regulation was adopted into federal Clean Air Act plan requirements in 2012 and applies to diesel trucks and buses operating in California.
The rule requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles they own to meet specific NOx and particulate matter performance standards and also requires trucking companies to verify compliance of vehicles they hire or dispatch. Heavy-duty diesel trucks in California must meet 2010 engine emissions levels or use diesel particulate filters that can reduce the emissions of diesel particulates into the atmosphere by 85 percent or more.
For more information on California’s Truck and Bus Regulation, click here.
For more information on the Clean Air Act, click here.