City officials in Bangor, Maine have agreed to convert the city´s vehicle fleet to run on clean-burning biodiesel by April 2005, according to a December 7 report in the Bangor Daily News. The settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency allows the city to avoid tens of thousands of dollars in pollution penalties for violation of environmental laws.
The EPA is allowing the biodiesel conversion under an EPA policy established in the 1990s that permits local environmental improvement projects in lieu of paying fines that disappear into the general treasury, an EPA official told the newspaper. The EPA cited Bangor for 37 violations, including widespread improper identification and treatment of hazardous wastes, such as paints and fuels.
The biodiesel that the city has chosen is an industry-standard mix of 80 percent standard fuel and 20 percent vegetable oil. It costs about 40 cents more per gallon than standard diesel, in part because Bangor will have the fuel shipped in from an out-of-state fuel supplier.
None of the 90 vehicles to be run on biodiesel need their engines retrofitted for the new fuel, but because of the extra fuel expense, it will still cost about $165,432 to run the biodiesel program experimentally for 22 months. Bangor expects to cut between 10 percent and 20 percent of various air pollutants caused by vehicle exhaust, according to the report.
EPA officials also discovered a plume of jet fuel that likely leaked from an underground pipeline system as a result of the freeze-thaw cycle, according to state and federal environmental officials.