MOE toughens emissions test, reduces frequency

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TORONTO, Ont. — Ontario’s Minister of the Environment Chris Stockwell recently announced changes to Ontario’s Heavy Duty Drive Clean program.

Slated to come into effect in April 2004, the changes will toughen the emissions test, but in some cases reduce its frequency.

To date, the Heavy Duty Drive Clean Program operated under the North American testing standard for opacity pass cut-points of 40/55 – 40 per cent for vehicles manufactured in 1991 and new, and 55 per cent for vehicles made in 1990 and older. All Ontario registered trucks have had to be tested once a year.

Under the changes, the cut-points will drop from 40/55 to 35/45 in April 2004. MOE estimates this will slightly increased the failure rate of trucks, from 4.4 per cent to 5 per cent. But a truck that records an opacity reading of less than 20 per cent – the point when emissions become invisible to the human eye – will qualify for biennial testing instead of annual testing.

David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association, says the OTA, which lobbied for the changes, is pleased.

“The proves once again that if you come up with a good idea, one that is win-win for industry and government – and if you are persistent – you can prevail.

“With trucks not having to be tested until every second year, the costs of compliance with the Drive Clean program will be effectively cut in half.”

The MOE estimates cost-savings to the heavy duty diesel sector will be on the order of $11 million per year, thanks to the changes. If downtime is added, the savings could easily top $10 million, according to the OTA.

“This is a strong incentive to meet the new opacity standards,” Bradley says.

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