The Oregonian, September 10, 2012
By Scott Learn
Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen is directing the county health department to review potential health hazards from coal trains that may run through the county en route to new Northwest export terminals.
Cogen’s request, to be formally announced today, focuses on diesel emissions from locomotives and coal dust from uncovered coal cars. He also wants the emergency management office to study potential delays in emergency response from mile–plus trains.
Activists have asked federal regulators for an independent health review and Gov. John Kitzhaber for a state health department review, to no avail thus far.
“There’s been a lot of talk about this on regional, state and national level, but I think it’s time for the local level to step up so we can understand how concerned we should be,” said Cogen, also chair of the county’s board of health.
Three of the five coal export terminals proposed in Oregon and Washington are likely to route coal trains through Multnomah County, as many as 32 a day — half of them full, half empty. Those three terminals, one in Coos Bay and two along the Columbia River, would ship coal from Montana and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to Asia for electricity generation.