Diesel machines law will cause more pollution and health problems

Large diesel-powered equipment that emits black carbon and contributes to climate change and air pollution will not have to limit emissions of ultrafine particulate matter (PM) under a new law proposed by the European Commission today. Transport & Environment said the law would encourage the use of bigger generating equipment that causes more pollution and health problems.

The proposed Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) directive limits nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions for electricity generators and other equipment with a power rating of less than 560KW, but it exempts higher-polluting diesel engines over 560KW from having to filter the most dangerous forms of PM.
 
As well as increasing greenhouse gases and local air pollution, these emissions affect the health of workers and those living nearby. Failing to set a particle number standard for equipment over 560KW will also lead to a market distortion, encouraging sales of the largest and more polluting equipment that will not need to be fitted with a diesel particulate filter that removes more the 99 per cent of the particles.
 
Diesel exhaust is carcinogenic, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and diesel machines are a major local source of urban air pollution near some railways stations and construction sites. For example, in London, construction machines account for 15% of all PM emissions and 12% of NOx. In Europe every year air pollution causes 100 million sick days and more than 400,000 premature deaths. 
 
François Cuenot, air pollution officer at sustainable transport group T&E, said: “The bad air we all breathe in urban areas across Europe is partly due to diesel machines operating in construction sites and on locomotives and barges. Instead of filtering their toxic emissions, the Commission wants to allow more cancer-causing pollution for years to come.”
 
The law also does not set a particle number standard for smaller inland waterway vessels (below 300KW). Such equipment emits large amounts of black carbon. Larger inland waterway vessels and some railway equipment does have a standard. 
 
François Cuenot concluded: “We urge the Parliament and member states to require big diesel machines and locomotives to fit particulate filters to drive out the invisible killer in our cities. We must make sure the legislation is consistent and does not create market biases.”
 
The proposed Non-Road Mobile Machinery (NRMM) directive is meant to be a response to the increasing use of stationary construction equipment, much of which is not covered by existing laws. Some existing legislation is thought to be out-dated, extremely complex, or not implemented by member states.

Contact the press team

Eoin Bannon
Media Manager
+32 (0)487 717296 
eoin.bannon@transportenvironment.org

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