LOS ANGELES (CN) – Walmart will pay to install a filtration system at one or more schools near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by next year, part of a settlement Wednesday over the retail giant’s failure to complete emissions-system upgrades on its fleet of trucks.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Walmart Transportation paid a $100,000 fine for not upgrading 19 trucks between 2012 and 2014, as required by California law. The retailer will also pay $300,000 to install a filtration system at one or more schools near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, expected early next year, according to the EPA.
A Walmart spokesman said the 19 trucks have been retired, and its current fleet in California is two years old or newer.
Meanwhile, the U.S. General Services Administration – a federal agency – also failed to upgrade more than 200 of its heavy-duty trucks with either diesel particulate filters or new engines between 2012 and 2017. The agency paid a $485,000 penalty and has promised to comply with state regulations, according to the EPA.
Bill Magavern, policy director with Coalition for Clean Air, said it’s encouraging the local air district, the state and the EPA are partnering to enforce these regulations.
“It’s disappointing that it took so long for our own federal government to come into compliance with California law,” said Magavern. “Better late than never.”
The South Coast Air Quality Management District will work with contractors to verify the performance of the air filtration systems installed at the schools and train staff to make sure they’re working properly. The systems will filter out pollution emitted from vehicles operating on highways near the school sites, removing 90 percent of ultrafine particulate matter, black carbon and fine particulate matter, the EPA said.
In a statement, South Coast Air Quality Management District executive officer Wayne Nastri said, "The funds from this settlement will go to schools that are hardest hit by air pollution from diesel engines due to their proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach."
Adopted as part of the federal Clean Air Act plan requirement in 2010, the California Truck and Bus Regulation applies to diesel trucks and buses operating in the state. It requires trucking companies to upgrade vehicles to meet specific standards for air pollution reduction.
The movement of goods shipped across the state is the biggest source of pollution for the region, Magavern said.
“The amounts in (penalties) here are fairly minor, compared to the violations,” he said. “Both the federal government, GSA and Walmart are getting off too easy in terms of the severity of the penalty.
“I hope this will send a message to other violators.”