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A breath of fresh air

LONG CREEK, N.B. - The New Brunswick Lung Association (NBLA) took a step to raise awareness on the seriousness of air pollution.On July 25 and 26, the Long Creek Weigh Station, which is located 25 km ...


RAISING THE BAR: This is the first emissions testing to take place on the East Coast thus far. According to officials there will be more.File photo
RAISING THE BAR: This is the first emissions testing to take place on the East Coast thus far. According to officials there will be more.File photo

LONG CREEK, N.B. – The New Brunswick Lung Association (NBLA) took a step to raise awareness on the seriousness of air pollution.

On July 25 and 26, the Long Creek Weigh Station, which is located 25 km west of Fredericton, hosted the province’s first heavy-duty truck emissions testing.

The NBLA teamed with both federal and provincial government representatives to hold the two-day, “completely voluntary” testing.

“I think probably everyone came out with excellent results,” says Alison Howells, the NBLA’s director of environmental initiatives and chairperson of their national environmental working group.

The truck drivers were approached and asked whether they would undergo a 15-minute emissions test.

“We tested about 30 trucks in two days. The results were quite good,” explained Sandra Bayne, the project engineer for the transportation systems branch of Environment Canada. “All of the vehicles we tested passed the standards that are commonly adopted in using these particular tests.”

Steven Parkinson, the emissions control coordinator for B.C.’s AirCare Program and employee of the Insurance Corp. of B.C., issued the tests.

“We used a wager opacity meter, model 6500. It tests what’s called opacity which is a measurement of the percentage of light that gets blocked by the smoke in the exhaust,” he says. The test itself is called the “SAEJ1667 Snap Acceleration Test” and is the current state-of-the-industry as it is used in almost every jurisdiction’s testing program in North America.

The transmission is kept in neutral, the brakes on, and the throttle is then moved from the idle position to the floor and held there until the engine hits its governed speed.

“We base all of our standards on the engines because it’s the engines that are certified for a certain pollution level as opposed to the vehicle,” says Parkinson.

For 1991 and newer engines, the maximum amount of smoke opacity is 40 per cent and for models predating ’91 the threshold – or cutpoint as it is commonly called – is 55 per cent.

Bayne says the highest count during the testing registered at 28 per cent opacity on a truck fitting into the category of 1991 or newer.

Ralph Boyd, president of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA), says the testing went along smoothly.

“It was not done for the purpose of taking people to task because they were not in compliance,” he says.

“It was more of an education on the contributing factors to greenhouse gases and the involvement that trucking has within the creation of emissions.”

Boyd adds it was nice to see all the trucks tested were compliant although he admits a little different environment might have given them different results.

On the days the clinic was held, this fairly rural area of New Brunswick was subjected to smog alerts.

“It kind of draws the parallel that we don’t have a lot of time to lose,” explains Howells.

“If air in a rural area can be polluted and have a smog alert, then we all have to do something for human health and a clean environment.”

Currently Ontario and B.C. both have inspection programs in place for both light- and heavy-duty vehicles.

“Whether it becomes law (in New Brunswick) is up to the province as it is in their jurisdiction,” says Bayne. “I know they are very interested in having these voluntary clinics.”

Environment Canada has been doing light-duty emissions clinics for a number of years in various cities throughout the country and is trying to raise awareness in the heavy-duty field.

One idea the NBLA is looking at is the creation of a “smog rover” – allowing it to do tests at different areas throughout the province.

“There have been many studies linking health effects with air pollution and heavy-duty vehicles are a major source of air pollution,” explains Bayne.

“There are many things we can do to help improve (the situation), fuel efficiency and proper vehicle maintenance can play a big role in that. We think it’s important that operators and fleet managers become aware of what they can do to help reduce the emissions as well as gain benefits on their end. Everyone wins.” n


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