US authorities announced that South Korea's top shipbuilding conglomerate Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) will pay a US$47 million fine for illegally importing and selling dirty diesel engines in violation of American environmental rules.
US Justice Department and and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that between 2012 and 2015, the company imported nearly 2,300 diesel-powered heavy construction vehicles with engines that did not meet US emissions standards.
“Hyundai put profits above the public’s health and the requirements of the law,” Jeffrey Bossert Clark, head of the department’s environment and natural resources division, said in a statement.
“We will not tolerate such schemes that skirt the Clean Air Act, designed by Congress to improve air quality,” Jeffrey added.
“EPA is holding Hyundai accountable for importing and selling diesel engines and heavy-duty construction vehicles that did not meet Clean Air Act emission standards,” said Susan P. Bodine, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
“By ignoring regulatory requirements, Hyundai not only gained a market advantage over their competitors, but they also introduced higher polluting vehicles into the United States, undermining the protection of human health and the environment,” Susan said.
In 2015, the EPA received a whistleblower tip reporting illegal importation of nonroad diesel equipment that did not meet applicable emission standards. Based upon the information received from the whistleblower, the EPA initiated both criminal and civil investigations. In the criminal proceeding, the court imposed a sentence of, among other things, a $1,950,000 criminal fine.
Hyundai’s illegal nonroad diesel vehicles were not certified as meeting applicable pollutant emission standards, including for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). NOx is a reactive gas that contributes to the formation of PM and ozone.