Sierra Club plans to sue railroad, coal companies over coal dust pollution in Northwest

The Oregonian, April 2, 2013
By Scott Learn

LYLE, Wash. — At the railroad berm that divides Horsethief Lake from the Columbia River, you can stick your hand between the rocks and come up with fistfuls of crumbly coal-black pebbles and dust.

Lyle, Washington, March 28, 2013. Coal dust spilled from coal trains that run on the Washington side of the Columbia River to the Centralia Power Plant and to export terminals in British Columbia. Photo credit: Motoya Nakamura/The Oreognian

Lyle, Washington, March 28, 2013. Coal dust spilled from coal trains that run on the Washington side of the Columbia River to the Centralia Power Plant and to export terminals in British Columbia. Photo credit: Motoya Nakamura/The Oreognian

For the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, such spots are Exhibit A in their case against coal export from Northwest ports.

Today, five environmental groups filed their biggest legal blast so far, warning BNSF Railway and six coal companies that they plan to sue them in 60 days in federal court for violating the Clean Water Act. If successful, the challenge would require coal trains to have water-pollution permits for the first time.

The club has had Liberte Environmental Associates test at nine sites near tracks and the river in the Columbia River Gorge, with additional testing pending along Puget Sound.

It is coal, the lab reports say. The environmental groups say it’s the byproduct of about four uncovered coal train trips a day through Washington’s side of the gorge to a coal-fired power plant in Centralia and export terminals in British Columbia.

Read more, view slide show…

About coalfreegorge

Coal is rearing its head again the Columbia Gorge. The new threat comes in the form of proposals to export coal from Wyoming to coal-fired power plants in China. The coal would be transported via uncovered rail cars through the Columbia Gorge. Many Columbia Gorge Communities in Oregon and Washington support a coal-free world, beginning at home, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, recognizing the importance of people determining what materials are allowable for transport through their communities and watersheds. This blog exists to communicate and advocate for the public interest in issues pertaining to coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, providing an online outlet for honest discussion and information. To inform and unite local citizens about the damaging effects of coal transport through our communities. To endorse positive and considerate dialogue with the aim of mutual understanding among diverse parties. CLEAN AIR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES NO COAL EXPORTS STOP COAL IN ITS TRACKS
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