EPA launches retrofitting programme for old diesel engines

The US EPA has launched a voluntary programme designed to encourage state and local governments and businesses to retrofit older diesel engines with pollution control devices.

The ‘Diesel Retrofit Initiative’ is intended to reduce pollution from existing heavy-duty diesel engines used in trucks, buses and construction equipment. The EPA estimates there are more than four million heavy-duty diesel vehicles operating in the United States, most of them without pollution controls.

The EPA hopes to get commitments from other federal agencies, state governments, environmental groups and industries to use available technology and other methods to reduce pollution from existing diesel engines.

Environmentalists welcomed the plan. “This is a step towards tackling one of the nation’s biggest and most lethal air pollution problems,” said Frank O’Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust.

O’Donnell said, however, that the EPA still needs to set high standards for new diesel trucks and buses and must eliminate as much sulphur as possible from diesel in order to prevent it inhibiting the performance of pollution control devices.

Diesel engines are the US’s largest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx), producing nearly one-third of the country’s urban air pollution. Diesel engines also produce up to half the soot particles found in urban air, causing more than 125,000 cancers.

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