Feds: Coal Companies Must Pay To Suppress Dust From Trains

EarthFix | Oregon Public Broadcasting, December 20, 2013
Contributed by Ashley Ahearn

A federal board has ruled that coal companies are responsible for controling dust coming off train cars. | photo credit: Katie Campbell

A federal board has ruled that coal companies are responsible for controlling dust coming off train cars. | photo credit: Katie Campbell

SEATTLE – A federal board has ruled that the coal companies operating in the Powder River Basin have to take certain measures to reduce the amount of dust that is escaping from coal train cars.

The Surface Transportation Board, a federal body responsible for overseeing safety and business disputes in the transportation sector, ruled that coal companies must ensure that coal is loaded into the train cars in a ‘bread loaf’ shape to prevent the coal from spilling over the tops of the cars. The board also said that coal companies must apply one of five approved ‘topper agents,’ or sprays, on top of the coal cars to tamp down the dust and that they are responsible for the added cost of applying the toppers, which can cost $.10 to $.75 per ton of coal.

The ruling comes after more than three years of debate between the coal companies and the rail companies over the problem of coal dust escaping from trains.

“This approval is consistent with the agency’s past ruling that BNSF could require measures be taken to reduce coal dust,” said Courtney Wallace, a spokesperson with BNSF Railway. Wallace called the move an “important milestone” in ensuring that coal dust stays in rail cars.

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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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