TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Allegheny County's $4M barely dents pollution from diesel sources

Reducing emissions

To address the “legacy” fleet, Allegheny County has begun using grant money to modify older diesels, including:

• Retrofitting 75 Penn Hills and 10 Deer Lakes school buses with special “diesel oxidation catalysts” to reduce dangerous emissions. The county installed the devices on 11 Clairton city vehicles.

• Installing diesel particulate filters on 33 Pittsburgh garbage trucks, eight dump trucks and 13 construction vehicles such as graders and dozers.

• Placing new diesel engines in nine Port Authority buses and providing the agency with a pair of diesel-electric hybrid buses. A new diesel engine was also placed in a CSX locomotive.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 10:18 p.m.
 

The Allegheny County Health Department has spent nearly $4 million in recent years to reduce diesel vehicle emissions that contain highly toxic chemicals polluting the air, but officials concede the efforts are making a minimal impact.

The county estimates that each year diesel engines in buses, heavy trucks, construction vehicles and tugboats emit 10 tons of soot that contain cancer-causing agents and other dangerous chemicals, said Jim Thompson, who heads the county's air quality program.

“It's a very small number in terms of fine particulate — 10 tons a year is hardly anything — but it's a very toxic 10 tons,” Thompson said at the health department's board meeting on Wednesday.

Thompson said toxic chemicals in 1 ton of diesel emissions pose the same risk as 60 tons of the known carcinogen benzene, which is found in crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke.

A 2005 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that diesel particulate in Downtown was the biggest air toxic concern, Thompson said.

In September 2011, the Health Department spent $860,000 to install 40 battery-powered pollution monitors on lampposts and telephone poles Downtown.

The major hurdle in reducing diesel emissions is that although federal regulations reduced particulate emissions from diesels by 90 percent in vehicles built since 2007, most of the diesels on the road are older “legacy” vehicles.

“The problem is diesels are very robust engines,” Thompson said. “And the legacy fleet can last upward of 30 years, and we have some indication of diesels lasting 50 to 60 years.”

A $184 million grant from the Heinz Endowment paid to retrofit vehicles owned by private companies.

The Health Department also has begun a campaign to get school districts and other diesel operators to enact “no idling” polices.

“Clearly we're only addressing a very small percentage of the problem, but it's important because the public is exposed to the type of vehicles we're dealing with such as garbage trucks and school buses,” Thompson said.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Homewood welcomes nonprofit Animal Rescue League’s new shelter, clinic
  2. Newsmaker: Matthew Zupetic
  3. Warrant issued for North Side teen in Penn Hills shooting
  4. Defense witness testifies on video, absent jurors, of cyanide alternatives
  5. 3 named to new Pittsburgh land bank group
  6. Lawyer for man accused of Homewood shooting says he acted in self-defense
  7. 3rd member of counterfeit credit card ring surrenders in Chicago
  8. Ferrante defense questions recordkeeping of lab that tested cyanide
  9. Slow-moving train hits car in Lawrenceville
  10. Ramps reopen from East Ohio and Heinz streets to northbound Route 28
  11. Curry Hollow Shopping Center has buyer
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.