In recent months concerns over the health effects of coal dust from rail cars at Norfolk Southern’s coal shipping terminal at Lamberts Point in Norfolk, have led to calls for action.
The issue of “fugitive dust” from coal cars has awakened the fears of residents of nearby West Ghent. The Virginian-Pilot reported on how environmental groups are stepping up their campaign on Norfolk Southern’s coal dust issue.
While Norfolk Southern has attempted to dismiss the concerns, I take issue with the railroad’s stance in a new video. As a Norfolk railroad injury lawyer I have seen far too many workers and other people hurt by the actions of big railroads.
A subsequent article in the Virginian-Pilot makes the lack of safeguards at Lamberts Point clear.
In the early 1990s, exports were booming and it was the largest coal shipping terminal in the northern hemisphere, leading to the construction of two more silos and conveyor belts.
It also meant regulation. Lamberts Point lacked an air permit because it predated the 1970 federal Clean Air Act and the oversight that followed from that.
The state Department of Air Pollution Control issued the railway company its first air pollution permit for coal dust in 1992, according to reports, but it only placed limits on dust related to new construction and did not put a limit on “fugitive dust.”
Put simply all of the thousands of uncovered railroad cars containing coal at Lamberts Point are not covered by the limits. Nor are the chutes that fill ships with coal.
“In effect, there are no coal dust emission limits for Lamberts Point, provided the terminal doesn’t handle more coal than allowed each year by the state; the company hasn’t come close in years,” reported the Pilot.
This is an extremely worrying problem. There’s plenty of evidence out there about the detrimental health impacts of breathing coal dust.
If you have suffered an illness related to industry or have been hurt working on the railroad, call me at Cooper Hurley Injury lawyers at 757.455.0077.