Enforcement and Assistance in New England
New England has some of the highest asthma rates in the nation. All six New England States have childhood asthma rates above 10 percent. Air pollution poses a health risk to everyone, especially children and the elderly because it aggravates asthma and other respiratory ailments and can cause lung cancer, birth defects, and nerve damage. All of southern New England and coastal areas of Maine and New Hampshire do not meet the national air quality standard for ozone. In addition, southwest Connecticut does not meet the national air quality standard for fine particles.
Idling diesel engines are a widespread problem and significantly contribute to air pollution, especially in urban areas. Diesel exhaust is made up of small particles, known as fine particulate matter. Fine particles pose a serious health risk because they can easily pass through the nose and throat and lodge themselves in the lungs. When inhaled repeatedly, the fine particles in diesel exhaust may aggravate asthma and allergies or cause other serious health problems including lung cancer. Fortunately, reducing engine idling, in most cases, is a simple, cost-effective way to reduce diesel pollution and the ill health effects associated with exposure to diesel exhaust.
Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have state anti-idling rules in place. Because the Connecticut and Massachusetts rules are included in their Clean Air Act state implementation plans, those rules are enforceable by EPA. We are working cooperatively with the Massachusetts and Connecticut Departments of Environmental Protection to enforce these rules. Because Massachusetts has an anti-idling law in addition to the regulation, state and local police as well as boards of health can take enforcement action. Connecticut also has an anti-idling law for school buses.
Since 2002, we have taken actions against Wal-Mart, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, bus fleet operators at Logan Airport, and Material Installations, Inc., for alleged violations of the Massachusetts anti-idling rule. In fiscal year 2006, we conducted nearly 50 idling inspections at various locations in Massachusetts and Connecticut where diesel-powered vehicles tend to idle, such as airports, shipping docks, warehouses, bus stops, etc. As a result of this inspection activity, we issued 14 warning letters, cited eight companies for violations, and initiated four enforcement cases that will result in penalty actions. In addition, we settled a case against Wal-Mart that will conserve 2.1 million gallons of diesel fuel and reduce idling emissions nationwide by 415 tons of smog forming pollutants, 10 tons of harmful particulate matter and 23,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
In addition, we are working to promote the SmartWay Transport Partnership, a voluntary collaboration between EPA and the freight industry to conserve fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Partnership “makes the business case” for how companies shipping products, and the truck and rail carriers delivering these products, can improve their environmental profile while also saving money and time.
Companies join for a three-year period, are assigned a “partner account manager,” and begin by analyzing the efficiency of their operations using SmartWay software. EPA helps partners set individualized goals and select the right strategies, and provides recognition, including use of the SmartWay logo. Fleets choose from a wide variety of strategies to minimize idle time, reduce rolling resistance, improve aerodynamics, and/or improve logistics and driver skills. Shippers participate by increasing the proportion of their product carried by SmartWay carrier partners, and also by improving on-dock efficiency and logistics. Partners benchmark their operations, track their savings and report yearly to EPA.
The program has just passed its second anniversary with about 450 partners in 41 states, including major shippers such as IKEA, Nike, Canon, and Home Depot, and about half of the top 100 for-hire carriers. But SmartWay isn’t only for huge corporations—many small carriers and locally-known shippers are also partners.
Stratospheric Ozone Protection
Certain types of refrigerants have been known to destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. The stratospheric ozone layer protects humans from being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Federal stratospheric ozone protection regulations were established to limit the emissions of substances that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations provide strict rules governing the service, maintenance, repair, and disposal of ozone-depleting substances. Most of these substances are being phased out and replaced with safer alternatives.
Over the past fiscal year, we investigated and pursued enforcement against violators of federal leak repair and testing requirements at industrial refrigeration units that released more than 25,000 pounds of chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances. Highlights of some of the cases include:
United States Surgical will pay a fine of more than $56,000 for allegedly failing to adequately repair a leaking refrigeration unit.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp will pay a fine of $176,000 for allegedly violating leak repair and follow-up testing requirements for two industrial refrigeration units that used CFCs or other ozone-depleting substances as refrigerants.
Kraft Foods Global, Inc. will pay a fine of $15,000 for allegedly failing to repair a leak of ozone-depleting refrigerant at one of its industrial process refrigeration (IPR) units and failing to maintain records relating to leak repairs on two IPR units. The company also agreed to spend an additional $300,000 to perform a supplemental environmental project involving replacement or retrofit of several of its IPR units; the replacement units will use only non-ozone-depleting refrigerant.
Cambridge Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc., will pay $118,000 to settle EPA claims that the company’s Cambridge, MA facility failed to repair leaks to industrial refrigerators at its candy manufacturing facility, to perform appropriate maintenance on the refrigeration equipment, and to conduct leak repair tests and keep required service records for repairs of some refrigeration units.