On June 15, 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced a major Clean Air Act settlement with Volkswagen of America, Inc., to resolve Volkswagen’s failure to promptly notify EPA and correct defective oxygen sensors on at least 329,000 of their 1999, 2000 and 2001 Golfs, Jettas and New Beetles.
Under the settlement, Volkswagen will pay $1.1 million dollars and will improve its emissions defect investigation and reporting system to prevent this type of problem from reoccurring. Also as part of this settlement, Volkswagen completed a voluntary recall of the vehicles at a cost of over $26 million.
Vehicles with the defect may release thousands of tons of harmful pollutants including nonmethane hydrocarbons (NMHC) and carbon monoxide (CO). NMHC are key reactants in the production of ozone, a major contributor to cancer-causing smog. CO impairs breathing and is especially harmful to children, people with asthma and the elderly.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.