BNSF Railway required to address coal train pollution

Seattle, WA — A coalition of environmental organizations and BNSF Railway (BNSF) have reached an agreement in principle that will ensure that BNSF starts to clean up and prevent pollution from their coal trains.

The agreement, which is expected to be finalized as a court order in the next 60 days, will put on hold the ongoing trial until a final agreement is reached, and includes several requirements that will protect the health of Washington’s waterways:

  • A two-year study, funded by BNSF, into methods for covering coal trains.
  • $1 million for conservation or restoration projects in Washington.
  • Clean up and removal of coal and/or petcoke at specific areas near water bodies most affected by BNSF coal trains.

Plaintiffs put on testimony over the course of the weeklong trial that included multiple eyewitnesses to coal pollution and expert testimony that a million or more coal particles per second come off of each rail car. A coalition of environmental groups — Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper, Columbia Riverkeeper, Spokane Riverkeeper, RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Friends of the Columbia Gorge — sued BNSF in 2013 under the federal Clean Water Act.    learn more