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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

21 November 2000

NEW VEHICLE EXHAUST TEST TO COMBAT DIESEL EMISSIONS


A new test for diesel emissions from cars and trucks could dramatically improve air quality in Australia's cities, Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill announced today.

"The unique vehicle emissions test, developed as part of a $1 million research program funded by Environment Australia through the Natural Heritage Trust, can be used to identify high polluting vehicles for repair," Senator Hill said.

"It can also provide the tools for governments to measure the effectiveness of other programs to control diesel emissions, such as fleet audit and vehicle maintenance programs."

Under Measures for a Better Environment, the Commonwealth Government allocated $40 million to the establishment of diesel vehicle test facilities over the next four years.

"The first testing facilities are expected to be operating within six to 12 months," Senator Hill said.

"The need for cleaner diesel emissions is growing in Australia with diesel travel in urban areas expected to increase by nearly 150 per cent in the next 15 years."

The fine particles and emissions of nitrous oxides contained in diesel emissions are of most concern while photochemical smog, of which nitrous oxides are a precursor, can cause acute respiratory problems and aggravate asthma.

The new test and other research will contribute to the development of a National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) for diesel vehicle emissions by the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC).

"The test will target problem vehicles to protect people's health and also the health of the environment," Senator Hill said.

Senator Hill said previous tests measured smoke emissions from vehicles, using either a visible smoke test or an instrument for measuring smoke called an opacimeter. These tests failed to measure fine particles and nitrous oxides. As well, they only measured emissions from vehicles travelling at a constant speed.

"This new test will measure emissions from vehicles as they change speed, as drivers normally do in urban traffic," he said.

"The research has also found a way of measuring particle emissions, which until now has only been done using complex laboratory equipment. This method - laser light scattering photometry - is being trialled in a pilot study and gives an on-the-spot reading of particle emissions."

Senator Hill welcomed recognition of the significance of the research by the California Air Resources Board, which participated in the test development project.

Seven integrated projects were undertaken as part of the research.

They include modelling of the characteristics of the Australian diesel fleet, development of the short in -service emissions test and an assessment of diesel in-service emissions management methods.

As the projects are completed, results are posted on the NEPC web site - www.nepc.gov.au

21 November 2000

Contacts:
Belinda Huppatz, Senator Hill's Office (08) 82377920 or 0419 258 364
Kathleen Mackie, Environment Australia 02 6274 1625

Commonwealth of Australia