U.S. Files CAA Suit for Below Spec Imported Engines

The United States has filed a civil complaint against PowerTrain Inc., Wood Sales Co. Inc., and Tool Mart Inc., all based in Golden, Miss., alleging that they imported and sold more than 78,000 Chinese-made engines that do not meet federal air pollution standards, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced recently.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., is part of an ongoing effort to ensure that imported non-road engines and equipment comply with the Clean Air Act's emissions standards. The filing marks the first federal court action enforcing the Clean Air Act's (CAA) emissions standards for portable generators, water pumps, and other "non-handheld equipment."

The complaint alleges that the non-road engines imported and sold by PowerTrain, Wood Sales, and Tool Mart from September 2002 through at least May 2007 were not certified to meet applicable emission standards. The CAA prohibits any non-road engine from being imported and sold in the United States unless covered by a "certificate of conformity" indicating that the engine meets applicable emission standards. The complaint also alleges that the companies failed to provide buyers with the full emission-system warranty required by CAA for all of the non-road engines that were sold, to install proper emission-compliance labels on many of the engines and to fully respond to EPA's administrative information requests issued under CAA.

EPA estimates the engines have contributed to excess emissions of more than 150 tons of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, and more than 5,000 tons of carbon monoxide.

Non-road engines emit carbon monoxide as well as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog.

In 1995, EPA established regulations to reduce emissions of hydrocarbons from small gasoline-powered non-road engines. To obtain a certificate of conformity for non-road engines from EPA, a manufacturer must submit an application that describes the non-road engine and its emission control system, and that demonstrates that the non-road engines will meet applicable federal emissions standards. After obtaining a certificate of conformity, applicants must also comply with specific labeling, warranty, and other requirements to ensure that the non-road engines will meet emissions standards in use.

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