AdBlue emulator loses second haulier its O-licence

 

A second operator has lost its O-licence for using an AdBlue emulator, as the spate of action by traffic commissioners (TCs) against operators evading the requirement to use AdBlue in their vehicles continued.

West of England TC Kevin Rooney called Stephen Harris and Karen Phelps, who trade as KSL, to a public inquiry (PI) on 22 January.

The PI was prompted by a DVSA roadside check last August, which found that one of KSL’s vehicles had been fitted with an AdBlue emulation device designed to defeat the emissions equipment.

Other defects were found at the same check, including brake faults and no parking brake on one axle.

A subsequent unannounced visit to KSL’s premises in September found further deficiencies, including: concern over the transport manager’s control; failure to act on the findings of the maintenance provider; poor vehicle condition; lack of evidence to support a robust driver defect reporting system; a high annual test failure rate; a poor working environment and an untidy operating centre and high roadside prohibition rate. Again, a vehicle was found with an AdBlue cheating fitted.

The PI heard that Harris and Phelps had held a standard national licence since February 2013, and were authorised to use six vehicles and four trailers. Harris was the named transport manager.

The TC’s revocation decision will take effect on 3 March; a delay designed to allow an orderly wind down of the business. Harris is also disqualified from acting as a transport manager anywhere in the EU until he passes his CPC qualification again.

Vehicle examiner Christopher Walker told the PI that the DVSA sometimes spotted the fitting of an emulation device for AdBlue because there was no evidence of use of the AdBlue tank.

“Typically it is dirty and the cap appears not to have been removed for some time. The gauge in these cases shows a definite level of either half or three-quarters full and never moves. Another indicator is that the fuse that powers the dashboard malfunction lamp is missing,” he said.

Harris told the inquiry that he had passed his CPC “a good time ago” and that the AdBlue emulator had been fitted to the vehicle, in use since 2016, when it was bought.

The TC said he had no way of being sure that Harris knew what he should be doing with the AdBlue tank but added: “A professional operator and transport manager should be aware that AdBlue is something that requires replenishment at a similar frequency to diesel (the tank being proportionately smaller). AdBlue is visibly on sale at every truck stop.”

The KSL decision is the second revocation where an AdBlue emulator has played a role this year, with Rapid Response Deliveries losing its licence in mid-January at a PI called by West Midlands TC Nick Denton. Mactrans, the Weston-super-Mare firm, had is licence suspended by Rooney following a similar offence, and its transport manager was disqualified.

Rooney has also issued a general warning to hauliers that using an AdBlue emulator is an offence equivalent to using a magnet to interrupt a tachograph.