Release 09-21
March 10, 2009

    Mary Salas Fricke
Crop harvesting company fined $10,000 for diesel emission violations

SACRAMENTO - The California Air Resources Board fined an Imperial County crop harvesting company $10,000 for diesel truck emission violations.

ARB fined Valley Harvesting & Packing Inc. of Heber, Calif. for failure to maintain fleet management records in 2005 and 2006 as required by law.

"Enforcement of clean air laws puts all businesses on an equal footing," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Observing the law is the most cost-effective way to run a business since fines don't need to be part of the budget."

ARB requires diesel and bus fleet owners to conduct annual smoke inspections and repair vehicles with excessive smoke emissions. ARB inspectors randomly audit fleets, maintenance and inspection records, and tests a representative sample of vehicles. Vehicles failing the emissions test must be repaired and retested. A fleet owner that neglects to perform the annual smoke inspection is subject to a penalty of $500 per vehicle, per year.

As part of the settlement, Valley Harvesting & Packing Inc. must comply with the following:

The company will pay $10,000 in penalties: $7,500 will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California's air quality; $1,250 will go to Peralta Community College District to fund emission education classes conducted by participating California community colleges under the California Council for Diesel Education and Technology; and the remaining $1,250 will go to the California Pollution Control Financing Authority to fund low-interest loans for owners of off-road, diesel-powered construction vehicles.

A decade ago, the ARB listed diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant in order to protect public health. Exposure to unsafe levels of diesel emissions can increase the risk of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases. California has aggressively worked to cut diesel emissions by cleaning up diesel fuel, requiring cleaner engines for trucks, buses and off-road equipment, and limiting unnecessary idling.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.