August 28, 2006

Penalties to apply in September under Quebec's emission inspection program for heavy vehicles

The penalty provisions of Quebec's new regulatory program for the inspection and maintenance of heavy vehicles (PIEVAL) are due to come into force effective September 1, 2006. The Programme d'inspection et d'entretien des véhicules automobiles lourds (PIEVAL), which officially began on June 1, 2006, is expected to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and other harmful emissions (fine particles, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons) by 82,000 tonnes per year.

The primary goal of the program is to prevent any alteration or modification designed to reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of pollution control equipment on heavy vehicles. All such vehicles operating in Quebec south of the 55th parallel (whether sold, leased, or made available as security) must be equipped with functioning pollution control equipment that reduces emissions of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates.

As part of the program, Contrùle routier Québec, the province's vehicle inspection agency, has been mandated to inspect heavy vehicles that show signs of excessive emissions and to analyze the emissions using the appropriate equipment. During the initial implementation phase, inspections were carried out through the summer at Quebec's network of 240 inspection stations. Any vehicles found to be in violation of the program standards were issued only warning notices. With the penalty provisions coming into effect, however, fines for infractions will range from as little as $100 up to $3,000.

PIEVAL applies to all heavy vehicles, i.e. over 3,000 kilograms, operating on Quebec's highway network and using all types of fuel. In addition to its geographic boundary, the program exempts certain types of heavy vehicles, including farm tractors, vehicles operating in northern zones not linked to the highway network, off-road vehicles, and heavy vehicles participating in competitions or shows or on a route closed to all other vehicle traffic.

Other provisions of the program govern replacement pollution control equipment: any such device installed on heavy vehicles as a replacement unit must be of equal quality to that available from the vehicle manufacturer, and must bear a manufacturer's identification code. Pollution control equipment must be capable of keeping vehicle emissions within Quebec's air quality standards, and the program includes measures for equipment performance verification.

It is anticipated that the program will reduce heavy vehicle emissions of particulates by 6%, or 450 tonnes per year and of carbon dioxide by at least 82,000 tonnes per year.

After September 1, a vehicle exceeding the provincial emission limits will be issued a violation notice and the owner will have 30 days to prove to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks that repairs have been made and the vehicle re-inspected to confirm that it is in compliance.

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