EPA Fines Cummins $2.1m For Unclean Diesels

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The Wall Street Journal [sub] reports that Indiana diesel engine supplier Cummins will pay $2.1m in civil penalties for violations of the Clean Air Act. The EPA and the Justice Department complaint alleges that Cummins shipped 570k heavy-duty diesel engines to OEM customers between 1998 and 2006 without the emissions-control systems that make them Clean Air Act-compliant. It’s not even clear clear that the crud-controlling gear is missing. The paperwork is. Cummins spokesfolks admit that 405 (or about .7 percent) of those engines never received documentation that shows they were fitted with the appropriate emissions-control systems. This is particularly embarrassing for Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who recently gave Cummins $54m in Recovery Act grants intended to improve truck efficiency and emissions, and called the firm “the leader in clean-diesel manufacturing.”

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  • Colin42 Colin42 on Feb 24, 2010

    Let's fill in the missing details in this article! Cummins Corporate Communications: John Wall on Cummins' consent decree with the EPA On Monday, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia announced that Cummins has entered into a consent decree with the EPA. I want to take this opportunity to explain to you what this means and reinforce that Cummins takes our environmental responsibility very seriously. A settlement between Cummins, the EPA and California ARB was reached due to Cummins' non-compliance with emission certification requirements from 1998 to 2006. This issue is centered on a process called "delegated assembly." Because engines and aftertreatment components are manufactured in different locations, they are shipped independently to our OEM customers for final vehicle assembly -- a process that is understood and accepted by EPA and ARB. When we do this, we must properly track, audit and report to ensure the correct aftertreatment components are installed with each engine. This is an EPA requirement. During the course of an audit of the process, we discovered inconsistencies in reporting. Further investigation identified 405 engines and aftertreatment systems that were in non-compliance - they did not have the correct aftertreatment device installed for that engine. In some cases the aftertreatment component was actually more capable than the correct one -- but that does not matter. It was the wrong one. The EPA press release focused on the fact that 578,000 engines were shipped without aftertreatment. That makes an eye-catching headline, but, in fact, that's the normal "delegated assembly" delivery process. What is at issue is that 405 engines were not in compliance. To avoid lengthy litigation, Cummins, EPA and ARB have agreed to settle the issue under a mutually negotiated "'consent decree." As part of the settlement, Cummins has agreed to pay $1.68M to EPA and $0.42M to CARB. Some things to be clear on: Cummins made no attempt to circumvent environmental regulations. EPA alleged that Cummins failed to properly maintain its auditing and reporting processes on delegated assembly and requested verification for 578,000 engines shipped between 1998 and 2006. After an audit, 405 engines, or less than 0.07%, were conclusively found to have an incorrect aftertreatment part number assembled with the engine. A campaign is already underway to replace the aftertreatment devices on these 405 engines. This in no way is related to nor impacts certification of 2010 engines. This is not about Cummins deliberately exceeding emission regulations, but it very clearly highlights an issue with our delegated assembly manufacturing, auditing and reporting processes for 1998-2006 products. In 2007, the majority of our EPA-certified on-highway engines began using aftertreatment systems, and in 2011, many of our off-highway engines will also require aftertreatment. We are investing significantly to improve our process capability for delegated assembly to ensure we are 100% in compliance with the rule. And we are working with our OEM customers to ensure they are ordering and receiving the correct parts and we are receiving the needed information for tracking, reporting and auditing. The message from EPA and ARB is clear -- they are not looking for best efforts or even "six sigma" -- they expect 100% compliance. I want to thank the many employees who are involved in this work and ask that you maintain your diligence in ensuring the processes are fully capable. It is important for our customers, EPA and ARB to know they can count on Cummins to do what we say we will do, and to do what is right for the environment. Dr. John C. Wall Vice President - Chief Technical Officer

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Feb 24, 2010

    I think Clessie Cummins is rolling over in his grave. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clessie_Cummins http://www.allpar.com/corporate/bios/cummins.html The man was a true innovator and prided himself on efficiency & power.

  • Jimbowski Jimbowski on Feb 24, 2010

    Nooooooooo. I own one of these (a '99 2500). We pull a trailer for our dirt oval kart racing team. It is also my first diesel, and I am never going back. However, 2002 will be the newest dodge/cummins I will buy. And I take pride that the emissions coming out the pipe of my 5.9 I6 is *cleaner* than that of gasoline engine vehicles. Even though I have a 'slightly' modified exhaust system. Just because the smoke is black, doesn't mean its more harmful.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 07, 2010

    coursairinc - so you don't believe the negative effects of DDT? I have some mosquito traps (plastic container they fly inot and can't get out) I'd rather rely on than DDT slowly poisoning my children. Corn is hard on the environment? Worse than tobbaco? Corn is certainly more common. Ethanol works well in vehicles properly prepped for it. Check with the Brazilians. I think I've read that with higher compression and ignition adjustments ethanol does fine. Ethanol in a vehicle engineered for gasoline - not so good. Mileage reductions. Do I support ethanol? I support anything that works. I have patience enough to give a technology time to mature. I'm not likely to support spending billions to set up ethanol only to close up the refineries in 5-10 years. I do support gov't initiatives to force manufacturers of polluting technologies like the automobile, mining, farming, etc to adopt more efficient and cleaner technologies as time move forward. Some of these industries would simply go the cheapest routes and the easiest routes if allowed (the route of greed, not the route of doing what is best for all of us).