Metro Vancouver tightens crackdown on dirty diesel exhaust

Fees rise again to reduce hazardous particulate emissions from diesel heavy equipment

Off-road diesel equipment is facing tighter restrictions in Metro Vancouver to reduce air pollution.

Metro Vancouver is increasing fees charged to run older soot-spewing diesel machines such as excavators, forklifts and generators as part of an ongoing effort to cut local air pollution.

The most heavily polluting “Tier 0” engines – typically built before 2000 – will cost their owners more to operate in 2015 and any that aren’t yet registered with Metro by Jan. 1 will be banned from ever operating in the region again, punishable by fines of up to $200,000.

Fees to run the worst off-road diesel equipment were introduced two years ago and Metro is stepping them up each year, while offering rebates to retire or upgrade those engines to cleaner models.

An old 120-horsepower excavator that was charged $480 when the program started faces an annual fee of $1,200 in 2015, doubling again to $2,400 by 2017, although the fee can be greatly reduced if a filter is added to cut particulate emissions.

The strategy of using a combination of carrots and sticks to get heavy equipment powered by cleaner engines is working, said Ray Robb, Metro’s environmental regulation and enforcement division manager.

Several thousand diesel machines that were subject to fees have been retired or upgraded, he said.

But 2,600 are still registered in the region and subject to fees.

Particulate from diesel exhaust is considered to be one of the most dangerous air contaminants to human health, accounting for an estimated two-thirds of the liftetime cancer risk of Metro residents.

Off-road heavy equipment has generally not been upgraded as quickly as on-road diesel engines for trucks, and they often work in construction sites near homes and schools.

“We’ve had good compliance,” Metro environment committee chair Heather Deal said. “People are upgrading machines or buying new ones. We’re now moving into the next phase where we continue to raise the bar.”


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