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Environmental Enforcement: PowerTrain to Pay $2m for Illegal Engine Imports

PowerTrain Inc. of Mississippi is to pay a civil penalty of $2 million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve claims that the company imported and sold almost 80,000 non-road engines and pieces of power equipment that did not meet standards under the Clean Air Act.

The EPA had alleged that between 2002 and 2008, PowerTrain imported 79,830 non-road engines and pieces of power equipment from China, and that these were not covered by a certificate of conformity required by the federal Clean Air Act.

The engines and equipment were not covered by such certificates because they were different models, had different power ratings, or were made by a different manufacturer than listed on the certificate. The engines also lacked two-year emissions-related warranties, as required by law, the EPA said.

The company sold the engines to businesses and individuals through sister companies Tool Mart Inc. and Wood Sales Company Inc. The three companies trade together as PowerTrain Inc.

The EPA estimates that the PowerTrain engines that were sold to the public caused excess emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Ground level ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, the agency said.

Under the settlement, PowerTrain will implement a plan to ensure that the engines and equipment they import in the future comply with Clean Air Act requirements. They will also offset the excess emissions resulting from the sale of the illegal engines and equipment.

As one of the offset projects, PowerTrain will spend an estimated $600,000 to provide subsidies for consumers to replace old wood-burning appliances with efficient, EPA-certified wood stoves.

“As this settlement shows, we will vigorously enforce the law to ensure that Americans buying foreign imports get environmentally sound products that conform with U.S. laws,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will not allow those who cut corners and violate federal emission standards to gain an unfair economic advantage over responsible businesses who comply with our nation’s clean air law.”

The settlement is the latest in a series of cases brought as part of the EPA’s effort to ensure that vehicles and engines imported into the U.S. comply with Clean Air Act standards.

The EPA and the Justice Department announced settlements with Pep Boys – Manny, Moe and Jack and Baja Inc., in 2010 and with the McCulloch Corporation, Jenn Feng Industrial Co. Ltd., MTD Southwest Inc. and MTD Products Inc. in 2008.

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