Diesel filter scandal serves up regulatory warning
-- Mitsui & Co, Japan has admitted that it obtained an approval to sell its Diesel Particulate Filter ( dpf ) by using falsified tests results. dpf are after-treatment exhaust devices, that provide more than 90 per cent control of diesel particulate matter (pm). False data was included in the certification application for Mitsui's dpf, submitted on February 2002. Based on this certificate, the company was able to sell substandard dpfs in Tokyo: around 21,500. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government (tmg) is now planning to file a criminal compliant against Mitsui.
Botching the figures In October 2003, tmg enacted diesel vehicle exhaust gas regulations based on the Ordinance on Environmental Preservation to Secure the Health and Safety of Citizens of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area (often abbreviated as the Ordinance on Environmental Preservation). tmg had also provided financial assistance for the installation of a particulate matter (pm) reduction device (dpf and oxidation catalyst). This operation cost it billions of yen. But 10 months before these regulations were enacted -- it was in the offing -- tmg officials had already found that the Mitsui device did not meet required standards. So, in January 2003, two tmg inspectors were sent to Mitsui for a review. The performance test was carried out from January 16 to 18. While it was on, one inspector allegedly went fishing with his hosts! With tmg officials as witness, the test result was altered by Mitsui employees: the recorded figures now showed a particulate filtration ratio higher than was required even by the ordinance!
These facts were discovered only later, in the course of a routine internal audit. In response, Mitsui immediately set up an investigating committee. The news broke. An embarrassed Mitsui issued a statement on November 22, 2004: "We regret to report on the discovery that false data had been produced and submitted to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government with respect to the Diesel Particulate Filter, which reduces the particulate matter contained in the emissions of diesel vehicles, manufactured by our wholly owned subsidiary". The company accepted the falsification of the data and has decided to implement responsive measures. Mitsui will now replace dpf for free and also compensate all providers of subsidies related to their dpfs, including the state and local governments, by paying the full amount equivalent to the relevant subsidies.
Regulators, beware Many countries are now using dpf to reduce harmful diesel emissions, and governments are adopting tough tailpipe emission standards that require increased usage of dpfs. In fact, dpfs are increasingly being seen as one of the finest exhaust after-treatment devices. The us Environment Protection Agency says that these regenerating dpf s are most capable of meeting their country's 2007 diesel standards, the most stringent in the world. But the Tokyo episode shows that without strict monitoring, such a belief in dpf s could be merely mythical.
Regulators, be cautioned.