24 April 2015
Four U.S. Companies Fined for Importing Uncertified Off-Road Vehicles
The Environmental Protection Agency announced 7 April that four Texas-based recreational vehicle importers and an affiliated mainland Chinese vehicle manufacturer have agreed to pay a combined civil penalty of US$560,000 in connection with the illegal import between 2007 and 2011 of over 4,000 off-road recreational vehicles sold under the brand name Hammerhead that were manufactured in mainland China and imported without the required certification indicating that their emissions would meet federal standards, as required by the Clean Air Act.
According to the EPA, some of the vehicles were missing emission control systems, were equipped with non-conforming catalysts and carburettors, and/or had been manufactured by a company different than the one listed in the certificate application. The companies also failed to maintain certain types of required information and incurred penalties for failure to timely respond to EPA’s information requests, all of which are violations of the Clean Air Act. The EPA discovered the violations during inspections of imported vehicles at the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, the Port of Dallas, the Port of Chicago and Hammerhead’s warehouse in Dallas.
The Clean Air Act requires all vehicles imported into and sold in the United States to meet federal emission standards to control air pollution. Companies that manufacture and sell vehicles must obtain an EPA-issued certificate of conformity to show their vehicles will meet emissions standards. Vehicle manufacturers must submit an application to the EPA that describes the engine or vehicle, its emission control system, and emissions data demonstrating compliance with emission standards.
The EPA cautions that vehicles and engines that do not have proper emissions controls may emit excess pollution such as carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. These emissions can cause harmful health effects like respiratory illnesses from the reduction of oxygen delivery to tissues and organs, visual impairment, chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion, and can exacerbate bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Excess emissions can also have adverse environmental consequences like ground-level ozone or smog, acid rain and water quality deterioration.