For several years the Allegheny County Health Department has sponsored a program to retrofit school buses to reduce diesel emissions. Now the department is turning its attention to construction equipment. The department will use $920,000 from its Clean Air Fund for diesel retrofits on construction equipment used by small contractors.
Rachel Filippini, executive director of the Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), says construction and mining equipment produce 25% of diesel emissions in Allegheny County.
"Construction equipment is typically older than on-road equipment. It can be as much as 30 years old. So, this older equipment is more polluting than newer equipment with cleaner engines, and it does tend to idle more just because of the type of work it does."
Filippini says the department plans to award grants between $10,000 and $100,000 to eight to sixteen contractors based on a variety of criteria including the amount of emissions reduced, cost effectiveness and where they are operating. She says the cost of the retrofits can vary based on the size and age of the engine but can be $15,000 and up...."these are significant in cost. This will hopefully help small contractors clean up their equipment and still be competitive."
Pittsburgh City Council could vote this fall on clean air legislation aimed at reducing emissions from construction equipment used on publicly-subsidized projects.
Marine vessels make up 40% of emissions, according to GASP.