The U.S. Environmental Safety Company is looking for a $168,700 penalty from a Windham dealership and repair store for allegedly tampering with emissions controls on diesel autos in violation of the federal Clear Air Act.
The federal government is accusing APlus Truck Gross sales Inc. of promoting and putting in aftermarket elements often known as “defeat gadgets” greater than 50 occasions between 2017 and 2019. The EPA introduced the grievance in a information launch Friday.
“This motion sends a robust message that tampering with emission controls on autos won’t be tolerated,” mentioned Deb Szaro, the company’s appearing regional administrator. “Emission management techniques on autos are designed to guard public well being by decreasing air pollution. To make sure that all of us have entry to scrub air, it’s essential that car restore services adjust to the Clear Air Act.”
Lawyer Leonard Sharon, who mentioned he’s representing the enterprise homeowners, mentioned they’re working to barter a good settlement with the federal government however had been blindsided by the grievance.
“First, the complained-of violations had been a really small a part of APlus’s enterprise,” Sharon wrote in an e mail. “The homeowners of APlus have passionately made certain and proceed to guarantee that they’re now in compliance. The provide made by the EPA would financially cripple APlus. We’re exceedingly fascinated by reaching a good settlement however imagine the provide is disproportionate to different settlements in comparable circumstances.”
He added that the enterprise stays open and APlus Vehicles has been in compliance with all EPA rules because the final violation in 2019.
Greater than half of the airborne pollution in the USA come from motor autos and different cell sources, in line with the EPA. The emissions embrace smog-forming risky natural compounds, poisonous air pollution that may trigger most cancers, bronchial asthma or coronary heart illness and gases that contribute to local weather change.
The Clear Air Act requires engines to satisfy emissions requirements, and it prohibits manufacturing, promoting or putting in gadgets that disable, bypass or cut back the effectiveness of emissions management techniques.
Tampering with or overriding the techniques can improve a car’s energy or gas financial system and should cut back upkeep prices and car downtime.
Whereas not frequent in Maine, the EPA has taken motion across the nation towards dealerships and repair facilities accused of tampering with emissions controls. Greater than 30 car and engine enforcement circumstances had been resolved in 2020 nationwide, in line with the EPA’s website.
Violators are topic to civil penalties as much as $45,268 for every noncompliant car or engine and $4,527 for every tampering occasion or sale of defeat system.
The grievance towards APlus Vehicles says the EPA requested and acquired a warrant for information on the enterprise in 2019.
In an affidavit filed within the U.S. District Courtroom of Maine that yr, an environmental engineer for the company mentioned that he had purpose to imagine APlus Vehicles was violating the Clear Air Act after he reviewed social media posts and a Maine State Police sergeant had met with the enterprise’s homeowners.
“These postings point out that APlus Vehicles is an entity that sells or installs gadgets that illegally modify or substitute motorcar and motorcar engine emission management gadgets, together with exhaust techniques that take away emission after remedy gadgets and digital gadgets that substitute computerized engine management and diagnostic techniques,” the affidavit says.
Courtroom paperwork present two inspections befell that yr after the decide granted the request for a search warrant. The grievance says the EPA then issued a discover of violation to APlus Vehicles in 2020.
The corporate’s web site says APlus Vehicles was established in 2011 as a small storage specializing in autobody restore.
“Since then now we have grown and advanced into a store the place we provide something you want or need carried out to your truck, or take a look at our gross sales division the place we may also help you together with your subsequent car buy with our clear late mannequin mannequin stock of diesel vans,” the web site says.