As a result of its violation of California’s Truck and Bus Regulation, Halliburton Energy Services is being required by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pay a bit over $400,000 in fines as part of a new settlement.
The “fines” are a bit varied in nature and relate to: a $154,400 civil penalty, $180,600 to be spent on environmental projects intended to reduce air pollution at schools in the Los Angeles area, and $75,000 to be spent working to reduce air quality problems in the San Joaquin Valley.
Halliburton’s violation of California’s Truck and Bus Regulation relates to its use of a fleet of heavy-duty diesel trucks (61) in the state from 2012 to 2014 that weren’t outfitted with required diesel particulate filters. The firm also “failed to verify compliance with the Truck and Bus Regulation for its hired motor carriers.”
“This ground-breaking settlement takes aim at a major source of road pollution in a state burdened with some of the worst air quality in the nation,” stated Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Transport companies must comply with California’s rule to cut the pollutants that lead to higher asthma rates for children and more emergency room visits for heart and lung illnesses.”
“Ground-breaking” in nature perhaps, but $400,000 is a drop in the bucket for firms like Halliburton. If regulations are to serve as a deterrent to noncompliance, shouldn’t the penalties be higher?
The press release provides further details: “In addition to the filters at Van Deene Avenue Elementary School, Halliburton will pay to have similar systems installed at the 186th Street Elementary School and Riley High School in Gardena. The systems will reduce exposure to ultrafine particulate matter, black carbon, and fine particulate matter emitted from trucks operating on highways near the school sites. The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s contractor IQAir North America will verify the performance of the systems and training of school staff to ensure their proper operation. The project includes a 5-year supply of replacement filters, which are expected to remove more than 90% of ultra-fine particulate matter and black carbon, based on independent testing.”
Continuing: “Halliburton will also provide $75,000 to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in support of its Healthy Air Living Schools Program. The funds will enable schools to receive hourly, real-time data on poor air quality so that timely action can be taken to avoid student exposure to unhealthy outdoor air. The program will also raise awareness of the public health impacts from idling buses and automobiles near schools. Idling vehicles contribute to air pollution and emit air toxics that are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects.”
As elsewhere, in California, diesel trucks and construction equipment are a major source of ultra-fine particulate matter air pollution. This ultra-fine pollution is strongly associated with cardiovascular problems (including heart attacks), impaired lung function, impaired lung development in children, asthma, and numerous effects on the brain and central nervous system.
In addition, diesel trucks are notable sources of larger particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution.
More information on the state’s Truck and Bus Rule can be found here.