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Cleaner and Newer Buses for California School Children
Detail: Laidlaw transit, California’s largest school bus operator, has agreed to renovate more than 2,000 buses to run cleaner, settling a lawsuit that accused it of exposing children to diesel exhaust in leaky passenger cabins. Law Foundation, Our Children's Earth and Communities for a Better Environment, three Bay Area environmental organizations sued the company in 2006.

Laidlaw will invest a minimum of $4.7 million dollars over the next five years to continue retrofitting buses in its California fleet that are more than five years old with air pollution control devices to reduce diesel exhaust. In addition, Laidlaw will invest $23.6 million more in its fleet over the next seven years by either retrofitting additional buses or purchasing new buses that meet the most stringent air pollution standards in the country. The company will also pay $6.6 million to the environmental groups and their lawyers. A San Francisco Superior Court judge is scheduled to consider the settlement next month.

Diesel exhaust, a mixture of gases and particles, has been listed as a cancer-causing substance by the state since 1990. The lawsuit accused Laidlaw of violating Proposition 65, which requires companies to warn the public about exposure to chemicals that can cause cancer or birth defects. The settlement will require the company to post those warnings in its buses.

The lawsuit said state studies have found that diesel exhaust accounts for 70 percent of the cancer risk that the average Californian faces from breathing pollutants, and can contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems, particularly among children and the elderly. The plaintiffs said some of the highest levels of exposure are in school buses, in which fumes seep into the passenger area.
Source: Based on a story, “Better Buses for California School Children: Laidlaw Transit to Provide Clean School Buses” in Ascribe News, Wednesday, August 6, 2008; and a story by Bob Egelko, “Settlement on school bus fixes to cut fumes” in San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, August 7, 2008.
Date: August 14 2008