I like the idea of trains but the Cherry Point coal dump is taking the train thing way too far. The RE Sources Fact Sheet is worth reprinting in full.
(Note: primary beneficiaries of this project will be Goldman Sachs* a major stockholder in SSA Marine and Warren Buffet**, owner of Burlington Northern Railway).
“If built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) will turn the rail systems of our local communities into high volume coal corridors.
Previously sparse coal traffic will dramatically and permanently ramp up, resulting in mile-and-a-half-long coal trains passing through these community up to 20 times a day every day for years to come. Worse — coal trains are smokestacks on wheels, known widely for releasing dust particles combined with diesel emissions that cover sur- rounding areas with sooty cancerous muck.
Because of the outrage this project will bring, much of the discussion about coal trains has been hidden from public view. It’s time for that to change. Please join us in voicing our support to keep trains, and coal, out of our communities.
SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point will handle between 24 and 50 million tons of coal annually. That’s enough coal to fill more than 3,000 loaded coal trains, each at least 1.5 miles long.
Shipping 50 million tons of coal annually would mean 18-20 additional coal trains rolling through Whatcom County and Bellingham’s waterfront every day.
What does this really mean? Big Coal will make HUGE profits, China will get the energy, but Whatcom County will pay the price. What price will we pay?
Health, air and water: Coal dust and diesel exhaust will threaten human health, our air and our water.
• Coal dust contains toxic heavy metals such as lead, selenium and mercury. When inhaled, these in- crease asthma, wheezing and coughing in children. Toxic pollution from diesel exhaust–from all those trains–is linked to stunted lung development, increased probability of heart attacks, lung cancer, asthma and infant mortality.
• A comprehensive 2001 study of coal dust emissions in Canada found that the Westshore Terminal near Tsawassen B.C. emits roughly 715 metric tons of coal dust a year. The report states that “coal termi- nals by their nature are active sources of fugitive dust.” According to the rail operator, BNSF, every coal car can lose more than 500 pounds of coal dust en route, polluting cities, towns, farmland, rivers and streams.
• It’ll come back to us—This coal is bound for China and other Asian countries where it will be burned to fuel their growing economies. Not only will the products they produce be shipped back to us, but also will the air pollution associated with burning this coal.
Traffic and wait-times: Added coal train traffic will cause significant new transportation problems in Bellingham and other communities near the terminal and along the rail route. Frequent traffic delays at busy rail crossings could clog commuter traffic, delay utility services and slow response times for police, firefighters and other first responders.
Cutting off Bellingham’s waterfront: Constant coal train traffic would cut homes and businesses off from the city’s waterfront and could drive away investors looking at the city’s spectacular waterfront for new residential, retail and commercial development. The development could win $2 billion in outside investment. Should we throw that all away?
Toxic coal dust: The Lamberts Point Coal Terminal in Norfolk, Virginia, which ships 28 million tons of coal annually, is legally permitted to release up to 50 tons of coal dust into the air each year. Black grit commonly coats cars, windowsills, and plants in neighboring communi- ties. Soil samples taken throughout the city were found to contain up to 20 percent coal by weight at a site less than 1 kilometer from the docks and 1 percent coal as far as 12 kilometers away. According to the U.S.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), coal dust has been shown to cause bronchitis, emphysema, and black lung disease in exposed coal workers.
Go to no-coal.net and sign the petition to stop coal trains from impacting our community.”
*”The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone Magazine
** Warren Buffet, our richest citizen, in bed with Goldman Sachs and willing to disown a granddaughter.