DEEP: Governor Rell Announces Bridgeport School Bus Project to Reduce Harmful Diesel Emissions and Improve Air Quality

February 16, 2007

Governor Rell Announces Bridgeport School Bus Project to Reduce Harmful Diesel Emissions and Improve Air Quality

Retrofit of 111 buses funded by lawsuit settlement

Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today that school buses used to transport students to and from Bridgeport’s public schools will be equipped with devices to reduce harmful diesel emissions with more than half a million dollars available from the settlement of an air pollution lawsuit

At an event at Bridgeport’s Roosevelt Elementary School, details of plans to improve air quality and reduce the risk of children being exposed to particulate matter by retrofitting the buses were outlined to the public.

Governor Rell said the project involves 111 buses contracted by the city from Laidlaw Company to provide transportation for about 10,000 Bridgeport public school students. Funds for the project are available from a $534,000 settlement of a lawsuit against a Midwest power plant, negotiated with the assistance of the Connecticut Attorney General’s office.

The Governor said, "As today's announcements makes clear, Connecticut continues to make real progress in reducing diesel emissions to clean our air and protect the health of our citizens.  To make Connecticut the most attractive place to live and work, we must make certain the quality of our air and our environment is second to none.  All of us appreciate the work of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and our state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to keep Connecticut moving forward on these issues."  

Several federal, state and local officials were on hand for the announcement – which represents another major achievement for DEP’s efforts to reduce diesel emissions, especially in urban areas. Officials included DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 1 Administrator Robert W. Varney, Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, and Bridgeport Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John J. Ramos, Sr.

The Bridgeport announcement followed an earlier event in New Haven at which the head of the EPA, Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, announced nine grants for clean diesel projects in the Northeast totaling $3.8 million. Two of the grants were awarded for programs in Connecticut:
  • New Haven will receive $114,855 to retrofit constriction equipment operating onsite at the New Haven Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School
  • Hamden is one of five communities in the Northeast that will share in $300,000 to retrofit school buses.

In Bridgeport, Commissioner McCarthy said, "We are taking a major step forward today to improve the quality of the air in this city and to protect the health and well being of its residents – especially the young people who live here. I can think of no better use for the funds we have available than to take action that directly benefits children by making their ride to school safer, cleaner and healthier."

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said, "This project shows the practical payback of pursuing law breaking polluters – improving air quality for the 22,000 Bridgeport children and residents throughout the region. We vigorously sued VEPCO, and continue to fight other major polluters, for illegally degrading our environment and public health. More important than the money, this settlement directly and drastically improves our state’s air quality – enhancing our children’s health."

The Bridgeport Retrofit Program is funded with $534,000 resulting from the settlement of a lawsuit involving the Connecticut Attorney General’s office and EPA against the Virginia Electric Power Company. The settlement was reached in April 2003.

The settlement was a result of violations of the Clean Air Act. The EPA charged the company with undertaking major modifications at its coal burning power plant in West Virginia without installing equipment required to control pollution that causes smog, acid rain and soot.

In addition to providing funding for Connecticut environmental projects, the company is spending an estimated $1.2 billion over ten years to install state of the art controls at their power plants to control oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. The company will also convert one of its coal burning plants in Virginia to use natural gas, a clean burning fuel.

EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney said, "This is a great day for the future of air quality in Connecticut and the Northeast. Between the $3.8 million dollars being put toward reducing harmful diesel emissions in the Northeast announced earlier today, and the over $500,000 being announced here, we are seeing a real commitment on behalf of many federal, state, local and private entities to improve air quality and combat childhood asthma."

"Bridgeport's children will breathe a little easier thanks to this funding," stated Bridgeport Mayor John M. Fabrizi.  "We appreciate the efforts of Commissioner McCarthy, Attorney General Blumenthal and the EPA to pursue this issue and secure this financial settlement.  Most importantly, we look forward to working with Laidlaw to improve Bridgeport's fleet of school buses."

CT Department of Public Health Commissioner, Dr. J. Robert Galvin said, "Diesel exhaust is an important source of fine particle air pollution. We know that breathing fine particles can cause serious respiratory and other health problems, particularly in children. This effort is a very positive action that will reduce the harmful exposures that children and others receive from diesel emissions."

"The health and safety of our students is always a priority," Dr. John Ramos said. "The efforts of the DEP and our partners in the Bridgeport Clean School Bus Program are helping to keep our students who ride school buses both safe and healthy. We are most grateful for the retrofitting of 111 Bridgeport School buses, which will improve the air quality for both our students and the Bridgeport community." 

Retrofit Details

Work on the Bridgeport school buses is expected to be completed by the end of August, 2007. Currently, all Bridgeport Laidlaw school buses run on Ultra-Low-Sulfur Diesel (ULSD).

Cummins Metropower, Inc. will supply the state-of-the-art emission control technology devices for the retrofits. The equipment includes 40 diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) and 71 diesel particulate filters (DPF). .

The estimated emission reductions that will be achieved over the expected life of Bridgeport’s school bus fleet are:

  • 1 ton of particulate matter
  • 5 tons of hydrocarbons
  • 16 tons of carbon monoxide

The Bridgeport Clean School Bus Program involved multiple partners including: the Bridgeport Public Schools, the Mayor’s office, DEP, the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, Laidlaw, Cummins Metropower, EPA and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

DEP Diesel Initiatives

Last year the DEP issued a comprehensive statewide plan on reducing diesel emissions. Sin that plan, school bus retrofits represented a key reduction strategy to further air quality goals and to protect children’s health. The Bridgeport project will reduce diesel school bus emissions in that city and complement other emission reduction efforts already in effect, such as the school bus anti-idling policy.

In the past five years, 15 major diesel emission reduction projects have been initiated in Connecticut, including work in the largest cities – Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, as well as smaller communities like Fairfield and Norwich.

Connecticut has made a public investment of state and federal funds of almost $5.5 million in these projects. Money has been used to retrofit school buses, public buses, construction equipment and garbage trucks.

DEP’s Clean Diesel Plan and other information can be found on the DEP website at www.ct.gov/dep