Five sentenced, including fleet employees, for tampering with emissions systems

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Trucking news and briefs for Monday, July 5, 2021:

Five sentenced for disabling emissions control devices

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania sentenced John Joseph, Gavin Rexer, Joseph Powell, Dennis Paulhamus and Timothy Sweitzer each to one year of probation and a $100 assessment for conspiring to defraud the United States and violating the Clean Air Act. Joseph, Rexer and Powell were also sentenced to 50 hours of community service, Paulhamus received a $15,000 fine, and Sweitzer was fined $10,000.

Rexer, Powell, and Joseph were employed by Rockwater Northeast, a company that serviced the fracking industry. An investigation found that between August 2013 and June 2014, the five individuals conspired to illicitly disable the emissions control devices in Rockwater’s trucks.

Specifically, they either removed the stock exhaust systems and replaced them with straight pipes or hollowed out the emissions exhaust components by removing environmental filters and elements.

Paulhamus also provided high-tech “defeat” devices to assist in the scheme, which the co-conspirators used to disable and manipulate the trucks’ onboard diagnostics. They concealed these purchases in Rockwater’s books and records by mislabeling them as “exhaust systems.”

They then falsely indicated that the illegally modified trucks had passed vehicle inspections at Sweitzer’s Garage, an inspection station certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

FMCSA proposes updates to hazmat regs

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on July 6 will publish a notice in the Federal Register proposing to amend the Hazardous Materials Safety Permits regulations to incorporate a reference to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s handbook containing inspection procedures and out-of-service criteria for inspections of shipments of transuranic waste and highway route controlled quantities of radioactive material.

Current hazmat regs reference the April 1, 2019, edition of the CVSA handbook. FMCSA’s notice would incorporate the April 1, 2021, edition of the handbook.

FMCSA says 21 updates distinguish the 2021 handbook from the 2019 version, but the incorporation of the new handbook doesn’t impose any new regulations. The proposed updates can be seen here in the section titled, “Discussion of Proposed Rulemaking.”

The agency will accept public comments for 30 days beginning Tuesday, July 6 at www.regulations.gov by searching docket number FMCSA-2021-0063.

Rail giant completes acquisition of Quality Carriers

CSX Corp. has finalized its acquisition of Quality Carriers from Quality Distribution (CCJ Top 250, No. 34). The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Quality Carriers, one of the nation’s largest bulk liquid chemical haulers, operates over 2,500 trucks and 6,400 trailers. CSX says the acquisition allows it to “extend the reach of its network and gain access to new products, markets and regions through a unique and competitive multimodal solution.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the Quality Carriers team to CSX,” said James M. Foote, president and chief executive officer of CSX. “We strive to provide chemical producers and shippers with the most efficient, cost-effective transportation services possible. By combining CSX’s and Quality Carriers’ capabilities, we can deliver an unparalleled multimodal solution that will generate substantial value for our customers.”