Bus Companies Settle Environmental Violations In Three New England States

Three bus companies in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts jointly owned and operated by Peter Pan Bus Lines will pay $237,179 in penalties and install new filters on most of their buses to settle violations of federal clean air and clean water rules, EPA announced on Jan. 10.

The settlement with EPA involves violations by Arrow Line Acquisition in Connecticut, Bonanza Acquisition in Connecticut and Peter Pan Bus Lines in Massachusetts -- all of which are owned by Peter Pan Bus Lines Trust of Springfield, Mass. All three companies violated Clean Water Act stormwater permit requirements, and violated federal oil spill prevention regulations and associated spill prevention plan requirements. Further, Peter Pan violated Massachusetts' vehicle idling limitations.

A Massachusetts anti-idling regulation prohibits vehicle engine idling for more than five minutes, with certain exceptions. According to the settlement consent agreement, Peter Pan violated this Clean Air Act regulation at least 45 times from February through April, 2006, in and around Boston and Springfield, Mass. This action is part of a larger EPA effort to minimize diesel idling, particularly in urban areas.

"Diesel pollution is very harmful, especially for sensitive populations such as the young, elderly and people who suffer from asthma," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Companies like Peter Pan can play a big role in improving New England's air quality by ensuring their vehicles don't idle for long periods of time."

The companies' bus maintenance garages in Providence, R.I., and Chelsea, Mass., failed to obtain a stormwater discharge permit, and failed to prepare and fully implement an oil-spill prevention plan. Stormwater permits are critical to reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff. Fuel spills and oil leaks from maintenance activities at these garages can contaminate stormwater runoff and nearby rivers.

The three bus maintenance garages in Milford, Waterford and East Hartford, Conn., all had stormwater permit coverage through prior owners, but failed to conduct monthly inspections and site evaluations, thus increasing the chance that potential stormwater pollution sources would not be identified in a timely manner. The Milford garage also lacked "secondary containment" for various oil storage tanks, and failed to adequately respond to a June 2006 bus fueling accident that spilled about 156 gallons of diesel fuel oil in an outside parking lot.

"Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, including to neighboring wetlands and surface waters," Varney said. "EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oil follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills."

In addition to monetary fines, Peter Pan also agreed to perform an environmental project. As part of the settlement, Peter Pan will equip nearly its entire New England passenger-bus fleet with new crankcase filters that will minimize potential stormwater pollution from bus oil leaks. The new filters will reduce each vehicle's leaks by one to six gallons of oil per year, thereby shrinking a significant source of stormwater runoff contamination from the company's outdoor bus parking lots. Peter Pan will install the filters on 268 buses by the end of December, and EPA will require documentation to confirm that the work is performed.

After EPA contacted Peter Pan regarding its air and water compliance, the company moved to strengthen its anti-idling program for its passenger buses. Specifically, the company strengthened its internal anti-idling program by implementing an innovative tracking system for monitoring bus idling in real time. Peter Pan also corrected its water violations at the Chelsea bus garage and at the other bus garages in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This settlement involving the bus companies is contained in three consent agreements between EPA and Peter Pan in Massachusetts, Bonanza Acquisition in Rhode Island, and Arrow Line Acquisition in Connecticut. The consent agreements are available for public comment until Jan. 29.

Additional information on the settlement can be found at http://www.epa.gov/NE/enforcement/water/public-notices.html.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.