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Sustainability at Oak Ridge National Laboratory > Questions, Comments, Ideas > Questions > Posts > Emissions controls on ORNL trucks
Emissions controls on ORNL trucks
It is not unusual to observe clouds of black smoke coming from the tailpipes of older ORNL trucks (especially the larger ones).  While not required by the State of Tennessee, could ORNL commit to voluntarily reducing emissions for its company trucks?  The NTRC and others have worked on diesel particulate filters that greatly reduce emissions and thereby help eliminate vehicle pollution.
Kathye Settles of ORNL Fleet Management responds:

This is a good observation and we are glad you brought it to our attention.  ORNL has taken great strides to implement biodiesel blends in all diesel vehicles which helps reduce black smoke as well as replacing older diesel vehicles with newer ones with diesel particulate matter control devices as funding has allowed.  If an ORNL diesel vehicle (with government plates) is seen emitting black smoke this is of interest to ORNL Logistical Services Division. The seven diesel vehicles that fall within the < 1994 diesel model vehicles do have annual DOT safety inspection which identifies any mechanical problems.  Our expectation is that the driver of a vehicle which is emitting black smoke would immediately bring the vehicle to Garage Services for evaluation.  There is a long-standing emissions reduction plan in place focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the use of alternative fuels, the use of more fuel efficient vehicles, and replacement of older vehicles with modern vehicles that have fewer emissions as funding allows.


Diesel particulate matter control retrofits are expensive but are much less expensive than the cost of purchasing a new vehicle and may be an option for any legacy vehicles that may not have such control and cannot be replaced in a timely manner. Most often when black smoke is seen coming out of a tailpipe, it is from an on-site subcontractor’s vehicle. Unfortunately, there is not much that can currently be done to prevent outside contractor’s’ vehicles which meet TDOT regulations from coming on campus. This issue has also been raised by other federal facilities trying to reduce air pollution from frequent on-site transportation contractors.  However, if you continue to observe vehicles of this nature, please note if it is a government or commercial license plate.  If a government license plate, it would be helpful to us in identifying such vehicles.


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