Trapping pollution one truck at a time

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Road transport operators with diesel trucks made before 2003 will be able to reduce particle emissions by applying for assistance through the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

The NSW Ports Diesel Retrofit Program aims to improve the air quality of older modelled trucks at no cost to the operators who use Port Botany, the Port of Newcastle, Port Kembla and the Cooks River Rail Yard.

Since October, the RMS has fitted particle traps to the exhausts of more than 529 trucks in an effort to reduce harmful emissions around Sydney.

The RMS estimates that 60 per cent of total particle emissions are from road transport and over 1,500 tonnes of those are being emitted in the metropolitan Sydney area each year. With air quality at risk, they are asking for more operators to volunteer for the initiative.

“There is a budget available this financial year for the devices to be fitted on the exhausts of up to 25 diesel trucks which use the ports,” an RMS spokesperson said.

The program was first launched in 2008 by the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority) and ceased in 2010 before the current government decided to resume the program.

General Manager of Johnsons Transport, Mike Moylan, said the issue is not the program but the fact that it only helps vehicles older than 1 January, 2003, preventing many operators from benefitting.

“We were part of the program several years ago. Since then we have upgraded our trucks and aren’t eligible under the scheme. We meet current emission standards for all our vehicles,” he said.

Air quality is an important environmental issue affecting many in the community. Diesel emissions contain harmful pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, which contributes to ground level ozone.

Vehicles manufactured after 2003, don’t release the amount of emissions as older vehicles do, and meet the current diesel emission standards, administrated by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

A spokesperson for the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, said the program is one of many undertaken by the state government to reduce pollution in NSW.

“The Ports Diesel Retrofit Program compliments the NSW Government’s Clean Machine Program which aims to reduce emissions in the Greater Metro Region.

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) developed the Clean Machine Pilot Program that is aimed at reducing exposure to diesel exhaust emissions,” he said.

By SJ Malagre.

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