Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Caterpillar To Recall 590,000 Engines, Pay $2.5M in EPA Penalties

Photo by Tudor Van Hampton for ENR Between 2002 and 2006, Caterpillar allegedly shipped 590,000 non-compliant diesel engines that were missing emission controls. It has agreed to pay $2.55 million and recall the engines, according to a federal consent order. Related Links: Caterpillar Recall Touches Dozens of Heavy Equipment Brands

Caterpillar Inc. is recalling hundreds of thousands of engines and will pay $2.55 million in civil penalties under a Clean Air Act federal consent decree made public today.

The settlement, released on July 28, says that the Peoria, Ill.-based manufacturer shipped 590,000 on- and off-road engines between 2002 and 2006 that were not equipped with emissions controls needed to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tailpipe standards.

Cat allegedly did not ship the engines to original-equipment manufacturers with proper exhaust emission controls, such as catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters. As a result, the engines emitted excess nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

"Today's settlement will protect public health and create a level playing field for companies that meet their environment obligations," says Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Caterpillar responded that it has fully cooperated with the Dept. of Justice and EPA in the matter.

"Caterpillar denies any wrongdoing, but does agree that the decree represents a good faith effort between the parties to resolve their differences and avoid potentially lengthy litigation," says Cat in a statement. "Caterpillar is committed to following the terms of the decree."

Under the terms of the settlement, Cat will pay the federal government $2.04 million and California $510,000 in penalties. The public has 30 days to comment on the ruling.

Some of the engines have already been fixed, Cat adds.

"The recalls involved in this settlement were executed some years ago," a Cat spokesperson told ENR today via e-mail. "Several of them have already been completed. The recalls that will be reopened to meet the requirements of the agreement will be opened through our normal service letter communication process."

The settlement may smudge Caterpillar's public image as it continues to promote its environmental stewardship. The company recently won an EPA award for building a fuel-efficient, hybrid bulldozer, and its new CEO, Doug Oberhelman, is an outspoken environmentalist.