Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. is the target of a new lawsuit filed by environmental groups over concerns over dust from open-topped coal trains.
The suit, filed by the Spokane Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council on July 24, joined the Sierra Club in filing the complaint with U.S. District Court in Spokane. A companion lawsuit was filed in western Washington.
“We have found coal in the Spokane River and its tributary Hangman Creek,” said Bart Mihailovich, director of Spokane Riverkeeper, in a prepared statement. “That is toxic pollution in our waterways, and that is a major concern to Spokane Riverkeeper and all of those who have a right to a swimmable and fishable Spokane River.”
If new ports are developed in western Washington to ship coal overseas, there could be over 40 more trains a day coming through this area, the complainants say.
“The Spokane River is a tributary to the Columbia River,” stated Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “With only a handful of coal trains moving through Washington every day, the alarming rate we’ve already finding coal polluting our waters is sending a clear signal of the damage to come.”
Representatives from BNSF are not commenting on the litigation.