METHUEN, Mass. — North Reading Transportation (NRT) will pay a penalty of $33,000 to settle EPA allegations that it violated federally enforceable motor vehicle idling limits in Massachusetts.
The Methuen-based company operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.
Under the settlement, NRT will implement a suite of idling reduction measures, including training all drivers, posting anti-idling signs, performing periodic “walk-throughs” of school bus lots to ensure that no excessive idling occurs, and notifying school districts of NRT’s policy against excessive idling. Also, NRT will install block heaters in nearly 200 of its school buses.
EPA officials said that NRT has responded quickly and has already implemented a number of these idle-reduction measures.
Earlier this year, an EPA inspector reportedly observed NRT school buses idling for extended periods of time in school bus lots in Lowell, Lynn, Wilmington and Methuen.
The EPA alleged that the company’s “excessive idling” was in violation of federally enforceable motor vehicle idling limits contained in the Massachusetts air quality state implementation plan. The applicable regulations establish requirements for all motor vehicles operating in the state and, with few exceptions, limit idling to five minutes.
“Diesel exhaust is a serious health concern for children, both here in Massachusetts and across the country. Reducing idling helps protect children’s health,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of the EPA’s New England office. “Taking easy and common-sense steps to avoid excessive idling helps to save fuel and money, and reduces unnecessary air pollution.”