Groups, BNSF reach agreement in coal train lawsuit

A coalition of environmental groups on Tuesday morning reached an agreement in court with Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (BNSF), signaling the end of a long-brewing coal dust pollution lawsuit.

The railroad agreed to fund a two-year study into methods for covering coal trains. The agreement also demands they pay $1 million for conservation and restoration projects in Washington, and the cleanup of specific water bodies most affected by coal trains.

“It is precedent setting,” Michael Lang, Friends of the Columbia Gorge conservation director, told Hood River News. “It’s good news for the Gorge community.”

BNSF denied any violations of the Clean Water Act and said in a statement that the settlement reflects its long-term efforts to address coal dust, the Associated Press reported.

The groups sued BNSF in 2013, and the agreement was finally settled in federal court in Seattle today. Among the seven groups were Gorge-based Friends and Columbia Riverkeeper.

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