Cummins agrees to pay $2.1M penalty for Clean Air Act violations

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Cummins Inc. will pay a $2.1 million penalty and recall 405 engines under a settlement agreement resolving violations of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced Monday, Feb. 22. According to a complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement in federal court in the District of Columbia, between 1998 and 2006, Cummins shipped more than 570,000 heavy-duty diesel engines to vehicle equipment manufacturers nationwide without exhaust aftertreatment devices included, in violation of the act.

According to the complaint, Cummins tested the engines with ATDs to meet EPA’s emissions standards, but failed to include ATDs with the engines when Cummins shipped the engines to the vehicle manufacturers; instead, Cummins relied upon the vehicle manufacturers to purchase and install the correct ATDs. The United States alleges that the shipment of engines to vehicle manufacturers without ATDs violates the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on the sale of engines not covered by certificates of conformity.

The settlement requires Cummins to recall about 405 engines that were found to have reached the ultimate consumers without the correct ATDs in order to install the correct ATDs. The California Air Resources Board will receive $420,000 of the civil penalty under a separate settlement agreement with Cummins, continuing a federal government practice of sharing civil penalties with states that participate in clean air enforcement actions.

Janet Williams, director of communications for Cummins, says it’s permissible under EPA regulations to ship the engine and aftertreatment devices separately. “We’re responsible for collecting information from the OEMs to make sure the right pieces are put together and for making sure the paperwork is complete,” says Williams, who stressed that the documentation issue existed for only 405 out of 570,000 engines shipped during the timeframe in question – only 0.07 percent. “We take our environmental responsibilities very seriously,” she says. “There was never any attempt to circumvent EPA regulations.”