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EPA Seeks $60,000 From Two Bus Companies for Excessive Idling at Logan

Release Date: 10/02/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is seeking a $33,200 penalty against National Car Rental Systems, Inc. and $29,400 against Paul Revere Transportation, LLC for excessive bus idling. The violations were observed at Logan Airport this summer. Both companies had multiple buses idling for more than five minutes, and in at least one case for each company, for over an hour. These are the first penalties ever sought by EPA for excessive idling in Massachusetts.

Diesel buses contribute to air pollution, and excessive idling (over five minutes) is prohibited under state regulations.

"Diesel exhaust from buses is a major health concern, especially in our urban neighborhoods, "said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "These penalties are a sign that we're serious about cutting back on pollution by enforcing rules against excessive idling."

EPA inspectors observed the violations at Logan Airport on several days in June and July. Six of National's diesel shuttle buses at Logan Airport were found to be idling for more than five minutes, totaling 332 minutes of excessive idling. Twelve of Paul Revere's diesel "Logan Express" and intercity buses at Logan were found to be idling, totaling 294 total minutes in excess of the five-minute limit.

In August, EPA issued notices of violation to the two companies, along with eight other companies and Massport. In July EPA issued a notice of violation to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority for idling at its bus yards. The two proposed penalties announced today are the first to be sought from the summer's inspections.

Diesel exhaust contains fine particles (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). EPA recently announced its findings that long-term inhalation exposure to diesel exhaust is likely to pose a lung cancer hazard to humans, and that short-term exposure can cause irritation and inflammatory symptoms.

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 inspections, the Boston area had significant air quality problems, including elevated ozone and soot levels, resulting in "moderate" and "unhealthy" air quality levels.

The Massachusetts anti-idling regulation prohibits idling the engine of any motor vehicle 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). Because the regulation is part of state efforts to meet federal air quality standards, it is enforceable by EPA.

EPA is also working aggressively with the six New England states to implement anti-idling programs, with a particular emphasis on diesel 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 100 of those buses.