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Release Date: 11/15/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - A Portland, Conn., fuel distributor has agreed to pay $17,298 to settle a claim by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the company illegally sold high sulfur diesel to numerous towns and bus companies.

The agreement follows a complaint filed in June against Yankee Terminals, which sold the fuel to companies and towns that unknowingly dispensed the non-compliant fuel into buses and trucks.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, distributors are required to deliver low sulfur fuel - containing .05 percent sulfur or less by weight - for use in on-road vehicles. High sulfur diesel, which costs less, is commonly used as heating oil and fuel for off-road equipment, such as cranes, generators, boats and locomotives.

Use of high sulfur diesel in motor vehicles increases emissions of small particulate matter, which can lead to severe lung problems and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Small particulate matter also contributes to the formation of the smoke and soot that is widely associated with diesel engines.

"High sulfur fuel creates unnecessary pollution and increased risk to the public health," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "Yankee Terminals has come into compliance with the Clean Air Act and agreed to pay for their violations. We expect Yankee will be more responsible in the future about complying with environmental laws."

EPA initially discovered the violations during an inspection of an East Hampton bus company in November 1997. After determining that the fuel supplier was Yankee, EPA investigators subsequently discovered that Yankee supplied non-compliant fuel to eight other fuel tanks at municipal and bus fleet facilities in the towns of East Hampton, Brooklyn, Bozrah and Willington. EPA then did an investigation of the fuel distributor's Portland facility.

Yankee has since taken steps to remedy its violations.