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EPA Cites 11 Bus Fleet Operators For Idling Violations at Logan

Release Date: 08/07/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has issued notices of violation to 10 companies and Massport for violating clean air regulations by idling buses for excessive periods of time – in one case nearly four hours. All the violations were observed at Logan Airport this summer. Violators of the regulation face possible penalties of up to $27,500 per violation.

The notices of violation are part of a region-wide effort by EPA to curb diesel air emissions, particularly in inner city neighborhoods where diesel air pollution and asthma rates are substantially higher than in other parts of New England. EPA is working closely in Boston with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the City of Boston to educate companies and drivers about the anti-idling law. The notices of violation at Logan follow a notice of violation issued in July to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for excessive idling at its bus yards.

"Too many children, especially in our urban areas, suffer from the health effects of diesel exhaust," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "Bus idling is an easily avoided source of pollution. Bus operators and transit companies can help protect public health by taking steps to limit idling."

EPA inspectors made observations at Logan International Airport on four occasions between June 25, 2002 and July 7, 2002, finding 38 instances of buses idling longer than 5 minutes, averaging half an hour of idling per bus. In one case, a bus was observed idling for nearly four hours.

Notices of violation were issued to: Alamo Car Rental, Budget Car Rental, Concord Trailways, Flight Line, Inc., Fox Bus Lines, Hertz Corporation, Massachusetts Port Authority, McGinn Bus Co., National Car Rental, Paul Revere Transportation, and the Plymouth and Brockton Street Railway Co. Some of the companies are contractors operating Logan Express buses. Massport was cited for a single instance of a compressed natural gas powered bus idling; all other companies were cited for one or more diesel or gasoline buses.

Diesel exhaust contains fine particles (known as PM2.5 or ‘soot'), smog-forming nitrogen oxides (NOx), and various toxic chemicals such as aldehydes (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein), benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

In New England, diesel engines are the third largest human-made source of fine particles, contributing more than 20 percent of emissions. Fine particles can cause lung damage and aggravate respiratory conditions, such as asthma and bronchitis. Children are more sensitive to air pollution because they breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults. Recent studies have found a strong correlation between exposure to diesel exhaust and impaired lung growth in children.

On several days surrounding the EPA's observations, the Boston area had significant air quality problems, including elevated ozone and PM2.5 levels, resulting in "moderate" and "unhealthy" air quality levels.

The Massachusetts anti-idling regulation prohibits engine idling while the vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes (with exceptions for activities such as maintenance and operating auxiliary equipment such as delivery lifts). Penalties for violating this regulation can be as high as $27,500 per day per violation (this amount increases to $31,500 for violations after August 19). There is a statutory 30-day waiting period after the notices of violations before any fines can be imposed.

EPA is also working aggressively with the six New England states to implement anti-idling programs, with a particular emphasis on school buses. In May, EPA New England and the New England Asthma Regional Council issued idling guidelines for school bus operators. And earlier this year, as a result of an EPA case enforcement against Waste Management of Massachusetts, the company will provide ultra low sulfur diesel fuel for 200 diesel school buses operated by the Boston public schools, and new air filter traps for approximately 110 of those buses.

For more information on diesel exhaust and anti-idling guidelines, visit EPA's web site at http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/diesel.