Tuesday, January 24, 2023

EPA Announces $1.35 Million Penalty, Settlement With Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Over Clean Air Act Violations

On January 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice
announced a settlement with Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services Inc. and numerous affiliated companies (collectively, GWRSI) for violation of Clean Air Act (CAA) locomotive regulations. 

In Pennsylvania, the Genesee & Wyoming owns these companies--  Aliquippa & Ohio River Railroad, Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad, Pittsburgh & Ohio Central Railroad, Wellsboro & Corning Railroad and York Railway.

The complaint alleges that GWRSI’s locomotives with rebuilt engines failed to meet applicable EPA emission standards, and that GWRSI did not perform required emissions-related maintenance or keep records of maintenance performed. 

The locomotives at issue in this settlement burn diesel fuel which produces significant emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and fine particulate matter. 

NOx is a contributor to the formation of summer ozone, and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns has been shown to cause lung damage and cancer. 

GWRSI estimates that the company will spend approximately $42 million to comply with consent decree requirements which will reduce NOx emissions from its locomotives by approximately 469 tons per year and particulate matter emissions by 14 tons per year.

“Today’s settlement requires GWRSI to bring its fleet of locomotives into compliance with Clean Air Act pollution control requirements,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The settlement is expected to reduce tons of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution and improve air quality where their trains operate.”

“By requiring locomotives to follow emissions standards, and requiring dozens of older, higher-polluting locomotives to be scrapped altogether, this consent decree reduces health threats from air pollution nationwide, particularly in those communities that live along railroad corridors,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Due to cost and other considerations, locomotives and their engines are typically rebuilt (or remanufactured) multiple times during their operational lives. 

EPA regulations require that rebuilt locomotive engines use the latest technology (for that model year locomotive) to reduce emissions. 

The consent decree requires GWRSI to comply with this requirement for rebuilt engines and take steps to ensure that it does not purchase or sell locomotives that have been rebuilt without conforming to applicable emissions standards. 

It also requires that GWRSI timely perform critical emissions-related maintenance. 

To mitigate excess pollutants associated with the alleged violations, the settlement requires GWRSI to remove from service and permanently destroy 88 older locomotives that are not required to meet any EPA emission standards.

GWRSI has further agreed that it will replace any locomotives it has scrapped only with locomotives subject to, and meeting, EPA emission standards. 

The consent decree also requires GWRSI to pay a $1.35 million civil penalty.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Click Here for a copy of the consent decree.

[Posted: January 24, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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