Release 09-78
September 3, 2009

    Mary Fricke
(916) 322-2990
ARB cites nation's largest school bus transportation firm $300,000 for diesel emissions violations

The California Air Resources Board fined First Student, Inc., formerly Laidlaw, $300,000 recently for diesel emissions violations of its school bus fleet that occurred in 2005 and 2006 at locations throughout California.

A routine ARB inspection found that the Cincinnati-based company that provides transportation services to schools throughout California and the nation had not properly maintained diesel emissions records of its school bus fleets as required by the Periodic Smoke Inspection Program. Not performing the required smoke emissions inspections can lead to increased cancer-causing diesel emissions.

"Routine school bus emissions inspections minimize exposure to diesel soot," said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "Children are particularly vulnerable to diesel exhaust, which is known to worsen and even cause childhood asthma."

As part of the settlement, First Student, Inc. must:

The company will pay $300,000 in penalties: $225,000 will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund for projects and research to improve California's air quality; $37,500 will go to Peralta Community College District to fund emission education classes conducted by participating California community colleges; and, the remaining $37,500 will go to the California Pollution Control Financing Authority which guarantees loans to off-road vehicle fleets that need to buy exhaust retrofits to comply with state regulations.

More than a decade ago, the ARB listed diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant in order to protect public health. Exposure to 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.

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