Fraudulent trucks responsible for major emissions in Belgian ports

A small group of defective or fraudulent vehicles is responsible for many harmful emissions in the Belgian port area. This is according to a study by the Port of Antwerp-Bruges that used ‘remote sensing’ to measure emissions from passing vehicles in and around the port.

Based on such measurements, the researchers estimated that a truck driving around with a non-working SCR catalytic converter emits as many as 15 trucks in order. In the case of particulate filter fraud, this can amount to more than 100 times as much.

More efficient

A team of experts determined emissions from some 235 000 passing cars, vans, and trucks during 2021. Trucks in which the measurement results showed that the system to reduce harmful emissions were not working were removed from traffic and, if necessary, were reported by the police.

According to the study, selecting vehicles for inspection after measurement in actual driving conditions is much more efficient. For example, a check without preselection found defects or fraud in only 2% of vehicles. With remote sensing, that figure rose to 50%. “Remote sensing thus dramatically increases the efficiency of enforcement,” the report states.

In previous research with remote sensing preselection on the E40 by the Flanders Environment Agency (VMM), no less than 83% of the trucks checked were caught.

Structural roll-out

In addition, measurement setups close to the starting point of trucks do not yield the best results. Trucks then still drive with a cold engine. “A highway or an on- or off-ramp is the most interesting location for taking measurements,” the report states.

“Modern vehicles are equipped with a particulate filter and SCR catalyst,” says the port authority. “These components prevent vehicles from emitting too many soot particles and nitrogen oxides. But, owners can save a lot of money by disabling catalytic converters or not repairing faulty particulate filters correctly.” For your information: a new particulate filter quickly costs several hundred euros.

“I urge my colleagues in the Flemish government to invest quickly now in the structural roll-out of remote sensing,” says Flemish minister for Justice and Enforcement, Environment, Energy, and Tourism Zuhal Demir. “We did preparatory work thoroughly; now it is time to tackle fraudsters properly.”

Standardized tests

Since 1 July 2022, all diesel cars with Euronorm 5 or 6 must undergo a new particulate filter test during the car inspection. The new test should ensure that vehicles without or with a defective particulate filter no longer pass the technical inspection. IA red card will follow if the car emits more than 1 million particulate matter particles per cubic centimeter,

Initially, the owner of the rejected car was given 15 days to replace the particulate filter. However, in mid-July, that deadline was already raised to three months because of problems with the supply of soot filters. Flemish minister for Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) has since extended that period to one year.

But it also appears that some cars do not pass the inspection even after replacing the particulate filter. According to CD&V MP Sofie Mertens, however, the core of the problem is the particulate filter test itself, which needs to be evaluated and, above all, standardized because, for example, few garage owners have the right measuring equipment to help their customers.


Ready to join the conversation?

You must be an active subscriber to leave a comment.

Subscribe Today

You Might Also Like

%d bloggers like this: