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Uncertified Navy Engines Draw $780K Tab

Friday, March 30, 2012

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A Navy shipbuilder and ship engine supplier have agreed to pay a $280,000 fine and invest $500,000 in environmental upgrades under the first settlement of a federal rule on marine engine emissions.

The case against Coltec Industries Inc. and the National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) is the first enforcement action under marine diesel engine air rules, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice, which filed the case.

Uncertified Engines

The agencies filed the complaint Sept. 30, 2010, alleging that Coltec’s Fairbank Morse Engines (FME) division  violated the Clean Air Act by manufacturing and selling 32 marine diesel engines from 2004 to 2008 that were not covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity.



NASSCO, part of General Dynamics Marine Systems, is the only major shipyard on the West Coast conducting new construction and repair.

NASSCO was accused of violating the same law by installing the engines as the main diesel generators on board eight new Navy auxiliary cargo and ammunition ship (T-AKE) class vessels.

The complaint also alleged that the 32 uncertified engines, plus eight more certified engines that Coltec sold to NASSCO, had missing or improper emissions compliance labels required by EPA’s regulations.

Finally, the complaint alleged that NASSCO also manufactured and sold ships containing an additional six uncertified engines: four as the main diesel generator on board a new commercial product tanker and two to power emergency generators on board two new vessels.

Emissions Certification Required

The Clean Air Act prohibits the sale of marine diesel engines in the U.S. unless they are covered by a certificate of conformity and have an EPA label indicating that the engine meets applicable emission standards.

Engines that are not certified may be operating without proper emissions controls and may be emitting excess carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which can cause respiratory illnesses, aggravate asthma and contribute to the formation of smog, EPA said.

In this case, EPA said, no environmental harm resulted from the uncertified propulsion engines.

EPA did not respond to a request for comment on why the law had not been enforced earlier.

Consent Decree

Under the settlement agreement filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Coltec and NASSCO will install a nitrogen oxide (NOx) control system to an engine test stand exhaust stack connected to Coltec’s engine manufacturing plant in Beloit, WI.

The stand is used for testing large marine diesel engines that Coltec builds and sells for use in U.S. Navy ships. The NOx controls required by the settlement are expected to slash NOx emissions by at least 85 percent, from about 102 pounds per hour to about 16 pounds per hour. The project will cost about $500,000 and will improve air quality near the factory, EPA said.

Coltec and NASSCO also agreed to attach the required EPA engine labels to 40 ship engines that were previously unlabeled or improperly labeled.

‘A Just Penalty’

“This is the first time a settlement addresses Clean Air Act violations in the marine engine manufacturing and ship building industries,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“Under the settlement, Coltec and NASSCO will pay a just penalty and achieve compliance with the nation’s Clean Air Act and EPA’s emissions control regulations. Compliance with the Clean Air Act by all industries is essential to preventing harmful pollutants from being released into the environment, whether on land or at sea.”

Assistant EPA administration Cynthia Giles said the agency was “committed to enforcing the Clean Air Act’s standards for engines, including ship engines.”

About the Companies

The companies issued no comment on the settlement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

Coltec is a subsidiary of EnPro Industries Inc. Its Fairbanks Morse Engine (FME) division supplies marine propulsion and ship service systems to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.

NASSCO, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, designs and builds support ships, oil tankers, and dry cargo carriers for the U.S. Navy and commercial markets.


Tagged categories: Emissions; Enforcement; EPA; Regulations; Shipyards

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (4/3/2012, 1:30 PM)

This looks like all they did was fail to attach the proper certification, not that the engines polluted more than allowed. $780,000. By comparison, if a worker dies through poor safety practices the company is usually looking at a fine of less than 10% of this number. Something seems pretty backward to me.

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