Tadano Spends $3.2M for New Tug in Settlement of Clean Air Act Violations

Port of Port Arthur Texas
Port of Port Arthur receives an environmentally friendly tug as part of the Clean Air Act settlement (Port of Port Arthur file photo)

Published Sep 1, 2023 2:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

A unique mitigation project that will help the Port of Port Arthur, Texas gain an environmentally friendly tugboat is part of a Clean Air Act settlement agreement reached by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Japan-based Tadano Group. The mitigation project designed to reduce emissions by an amount similar to the company’s violations is in addition to a $40 million civil penalty in the negotiated settlement.

Tadano Group through its operating companies and subsidiaries imported and sold nonroad cranes with diesel engines. The EPA in 2017 made an inquiry to the company seeking clarification related to the company’s participation in EPA programs. After receiving the inquiry, the company retained legal counsel and self-reported potential violations of the Clean Air Act. The EPA pursued its inquiry in 2020 specifically targeting the company’s compliance with portions of the Clean Air Act and the applicable regulations for nonroad engines and nonroad vehicles.

The EPA and Department of Justice filed a complaint against Tadano Group that alleges between 2011 and 2017, Tadano sold nonroad cranes with at least 269 diesel engines that violated the Clean Air Act because the engines were not covered by current EPA-issued certificates of conformity, nor did the engines qualify for a limited exemption under EPA’s Transition Program for Equipment Manufacturers. The Tadano Group also did not comply with Clean Air Act reporting, bonding, and fuel inlet labeling requirements.

The negotiated settlement resolved the allegations against Tadano. Further, the company represents in the settlement that, concurrently with the government’s investigation and review prompted by the self-report, that the company developed and implemented an updated compliance plan designed to ensure better future compliance with regulations governing manufacturers and importers of nonroad vehicles in the United States, including the environmental regulations.

Beyond the $40 million penalty, the EPA required Tadano to implement a mitigation effort and the company proposed and the agreement accepts a plan involving the Port of Port Arthur, Texas. It was selected because it is near Tadano America Corp.’s facility in Houston, Texas.

The company will spend $3.2 million on a project that will retire and replace a 1975 tugboat operating in the port. The tugboat has outdated diesel engines which emit a high level of NOx and particulate matter. The project calls for the destruction of the crankshaft, cylinder head and liner, and engine block in the tug’s engines. The new tugboat will have up-to-date, Tier 4 engines, preventing the release of an estimated 2,075 tons of NOx emissions and more than 22 tons of PM emissions over 20 years.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division highlighted the settlement both for holding Tadano accountable for its violations while also requiring the completion of a project that will improve the quality of life for those living in the Port Arthur, Texas area.