The Sierra Club announced it plans to sue railroads and coal companies in northeastern Wyoming over coal spilled in transit.
Wyoming Public Media reports the group has tested land and water around railroad tracks and found pieces of coal and coal dust, which contains mercury, arsenic and lead, that has blown off of trains.
The group gave notice to BNSF railroad to correct the alleged violation of the Clean Water Act within 60 days. If BNSF takes no action, the Sierra Club will take the case to court.
In a written response, BNSF told Sheridan Media the actions taken by the Sierra Club are primarly motivated by its opposition to exporting coal. Cortney Wallace, regional director for public affairs at BNSF, said the move is political ground standing via a nuisance lawsuit without merit. She says BNSF has not been made aware of any third-party environmental tests confirming coal was found. In addition, Wallace points out coal has been shipped for more than a century, and coal contamination may be residual from previous, more primitive transport.
Wallace said BNSF takes environmental responsibility seriously, and new coal loading requirements stipulate the implementation of topper agents that mitigate dust losses while in transit.