WASHINGTON—Paul Revere Transportation LLC, a bus company based in Boston, has agreed to pay a $650,000 civil penalty after being found liable by a jury in June for violating federal and state clean air laws for idling their buses for extended periods of time, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.
The company was found liable on June 8, 2009, after a six-day trial in U.S. District Court in Boston, for 234 separate violations of the Clean Air Act and a Massachusetts anti-idling regulation. A hearing to determine a penalty for those violations was scheduled to begin in two weeks, until the company agreed to pay the civil penalty.
Paul Revere owns and operates a large fleet of buses and other vehicles, including approximately 60 running out of its bus yard in Roxbury, Mass. In 2006, an EPA inspector observed buses idling at the yard for extended periods. As a result, the United States filed a complaint against the company in federal court for violations of the Massachusetts anti-idling regulation, a requirement under the Commonwealth’s Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan.
The anti-idling regulation prohibits the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes. The complaint alleged that Paul Revere idled its buses for lengthy periods of time, many extending more than an hour over the legal limit.
"This penalty appropriately punishes past violations of federal and state clean air laws and will deter other transportation companies from leaving their vehicles idling for extended periods of time in the future," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
"Roxbury is a densely-populated urban area, where people already suffer from extremely high asthma rates. It is unacceptable that diesel buses and other vehicles were left idling for more than an hour at a time," said Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "Diesel pollution is very harmful, especially for sensitive populations such as the young, elderly, and people who suffer from asthma. Following anti-idling laws helps protect the health of people who live in the surrounding area."
EPA’s New England office has previously brought and resolved 10 separate enforcement actions for penalties against nine different companies, including Paul Revere, for violations of the idling law.
Idling diesel engines emit pollutants which can cause or aggravate a variety of health problems including asthma and other respiratory diseases, and the fine particles in diesel exhaust are a likely human carcinogen. Diesel exhaust not only contributes to area-wide air quality problems, but more direct exposure can cause lightheadedness, nausea, sore throat, coughing, and other symptoms. Drivers, passengers, facility workers, neighbors and bystanders are all vulnerable. Diesel emissions also contribute to air pollution which can lead to early deaths, asthma attacks, other health problems.
Once the violations were discovered at the Roxbury facility, inspections were conducted once a week for seven weeks. During each inspection, numerous Paul Revere vehicles, sometimes more than 20, were seen idling for periods of up to two hours. During the seven separate inspections more than 100 hours of illegal idling were witnessed.
Paul Revere’s illegal idling was also documented by a local resident living adjacent to Paul Revere’s Roxbury yard, who testified at trial regarding numerous violations she witnessed over the years at the facility.
Paul Revere has previously been cited by EPA for violations of the Massachusetts anti-idling law. In 2003, Paul Revere paid a civil penalty for illegal idling at Boston’s Logan Airport.
The federal government has worked aggressively with the six New England states to implement and enforce anti-idling programs. EPA’s inspections of transportation facilities are part of a region-wide effort, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the city of Boston, to curb diesel air emissions, particularly in inner city neighborhoods such as Roxbury where diesel air pollution and asthma rates are substantially higher than in other parts of Massachusetts.
The Stipulation and Order, lodged in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the Stipulation and Order is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.