On April 2, The Sierra Club and allies announced their plan to sue the coal industry and the railroads for allowing coal dust to blow off their cars and leak out the bottom. They identified several places in the Gorge including Horse Thief Lake and Dallesport where the coal dust was several inches deep next to the river.
Columbia Riverkeeper also floated some clean containers in the water and determined that coal dust was presently being released into the river. This seems to be a violation of the Clean Water Act.
I don’t know about Oregon, but in Clark County, if the County Commissioners allowed builders to track dust near a storm drain, the Commissioners would each be fined $25,000 per day per outfall. Why is the coal industry allowed to dump dust in the river, and other people aren’t?
Dust of any kind settles on, and rots, salmon eggs and the eggs of the bugs that juvenile salmon eat. The coal industry is planning to export 30 miles of coal trains per day through the Gorge. Trains will cross dozens of salmon bearing streams before reaching the proposed terminals in Longview, Clatskanie, Boardman, and Bellingham.
In 2005, the White House said that for every $1 we spend reducing diesel emissions, we’d save $4 in health care costs. Since then we’ve spent millions cleaning the diesel engines of school buses, long haul trucks and public transit. We did this to protect our health and blue skies, not to provide room for 1300 diesel locomotives and 100 tugs to traverse our air-shed every week. Locomotives won’t begin to meet the new emission standards until 2016.
This summer there will be a public hearing regarding the proposed Longview Terminal. If you want to be notified, write to [email protected]
Cheers to the Sierra Club for protecting salmon and air quality.
By Don Steinke of Vancouver, Washington