Multnomah County Health Department Releases Coal Train Health Report

Mar 1, 2013

A new report from the Multnomah County Health Department finds there's not enough industry data to say for sure what the health effects would be if trains begin to haul coal to export terminals in the Northwest.

Gary Oxman is a public health physician who worked on the study.

“The two biggest concerns are one, that we know there will be a modest increase in the amount of the diesel pollution coming off the trains, and then the other is whether there will be dispersion of coal dust in the community and whether that dust will cause health problems.”

The health department’s report says railroad companies and the coal industry should have to prove that coal dust coming off the trains won’t be a health risk.

Coal trains would travel through the Columbia River Gorge, and some would pass through the heart of Portland.

The county’s report also calls on state and federal officials to conduct a regional environmental impact study that includes all the terminals proposed for the West Coast.

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