California reefer rule expanded to shippers, receivers

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 3/7/2013

An expansion of an existing California emissions regulation has left a bitter taste among many who work with the state’s produce industry.
Beginning in January 2013, enforcement officers employed by the California Air Resources Board have the power to investigate and fine shippers and receivers suspected of hiring companies whose reefers don’t meet the state’s Transportation Refrigeration Unit regulation.
For years the owner of a noncompliant reefer could be fined. Now, CARB says, a shipper or receiver who hires a company that uses noncompliant reefers may be fined up to $10,000.
“The $10,000 could be applied to any of those players,” Rod Hill, staff air pollution specialist with CARB. “Normally that $10,000 number isn’t going to be used. That number is there in the event that we get a repeat offender or somebody who just is not forthcoming or cooperative.”
Hill said some companies in the produce industry were concerned because they were misinformed about exactly who could be fined by the TRU rule’s new provision. Some had mistakenly believed any shipper or receiver that allowed a delivery or pick-up from a noncompliant TRU could be fined, but Hill said that isn’t the case.
“It is not up to the shippers and receivers. They do not need to turn away people at the loading dock if they’re not the ones that hired the carrier,” Hill told Land Line. “If they’re the ones that hired the carrier, or if the truck shows up and they can’t show they have a compliant unit – then yeah they should turn them away. But if someone else hires them – the broker for instance – the shipper didn’t have anything to do with that hiring so they shouldn’t need to feel like they should turn anybody away.
“It is just the business entity that hired the carrier that needs to be concerned about it,” Hill said.
As of Thursday, Hill said he believed CARB had not yet fined a shipper or receiver under the TRU rule’s new provision.
“I think the plan was to ease our way into this a little bit,” Hill said. “Basically, the enforcement starts now. We were trying to get the word out at first and help people understand what they need to do and we wanted to give them tools for this process.”
To learn more about the TRU rule and to find tools for determining TRU compliance, click here.
Hill said the new provision’s powers to fine those specifically who hired a reefer that doesn’t meet the TRU rule has forced CARB staff to undergo a crash course in the mechanics of trucking business.
“Every time we turn around we’re learning something new,” Hill said.
Hill was surprised, he said, specifically by the lack of paperwork used by some in the produce transportation industry.
“It’s amazing to us that there are situations where there is very little paperwork that goes along with the hiring of a carrier,” Hill said. “It’s pretty amazing that somebody would just show up at a dock, get loaded and take it someplace without there being very much paperwork at all.”

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