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Gaylord business faces $750K in fines for Clean Air Act violations

Smoke from a truck exhaust pipe
Ruben de Rijcke
Smoke from a truck exhaust pipe

A northern Michigan business is paying around $750,000 in fines following a federal court ruling.

Diesel Freak is a truck repair and electronics modification facility in Gaylord, and 14 people associated with the company were recently sentenced for participating in a scheme that violated the Clean Air Act.

A three-year EPA investigation discovered Diesel Freak remotely reprogrammed semi-trucks and disabled environmental controls, which allowed for trucks to operate more efficiently while releasing toxic emissions above federal safety levels limits.

The investigation found the company had deleted environmental controls on more than 350 trucks.

The company and defendants pleaded guilty to the charges. The company owner admitted in Michigan's Western District Court around 70% of the business involved "full emissions control deletions."

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said this Clean Air Act case is "one of the largest of its kind."

"[The] sentences send a clear message that polluters who break environmental laws will be held accountable," Totten said. "Environmental rules safeguard the water we drink, the lakes we fish, and the air we breathe sends a clear message that polluters who break environmental laws will be held accountable."

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.