Comments On Coal Trains Brings Out Hundreds In Spokane

Sep 27, 2013

About 450 people turned out for the public hearing in Spokane last night on a proposed coal shipping facility in southwest Washington. It was the second of five statewide hearings hosted by the state Department of Ecology, Army Corps of Engineers, and Cowlitz County.

Wearing red t-shirts, those opposed to the Longview terminal made up the majority of speakers. Their main request for the hearings board: do a thorough review of the entire coal route. That includes an estimated 40 coal carrying trains that would pass through the region daily. Speakers like Debbora Fischer question whether heavier rail traffic would require rail line upgrades, and who would fit that bill.

Fischer: “For me, I’ve worked all my life, why would I have to pay the cost of the infrastructure so that Peabody or Arch Coal could get more money. I mean excuse me, it doesn't benefit most people, it hurts them.”

The group Power Past Coal sites a statistic from BNSF railway that each train could lose up to 500 pounds of coal in the form of dust. Locomotive engineer Steve Mazulo disagrees. He says he’s supported five kids off his job with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, and dismisses claims that shipping coal brings environmental dangers.

Mazulo: “A lot of the dust concerns that they have, I’ve been moving it for years. I haven’t seen any dust coming off of these coal trains. And I just wanted to put the facts out there, and show my support for more jobs in this community.”

The Millennium Bulks Terminal in Longview could generate nearly 3,000 jobs, mostly temporary, according to the Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports. People can give written or online comment until November 18th. Afterward, the parties reviewing the terminal will initiate a study and create environmental reviews.

Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio