PASCO — A coal train that derailed and spilled 31 cars of the black, dusty fuel caused little more than a big mess and a day's delay in rail traffic in the Eastern Washington town of Mesa, but opponents of increased coal shipments through the Northwest say it's an example of a serious risk.
No one was injured and no buildings damaged Monday evening when the train derailed, said Franklin County sheriff's Lt. Ronelle Nelson.
About 50 workers using heavy equipment worked through the night to clear the BNSF Railway track, said spokesman Gus Melonas.
They were able to put one car back on the track, but 30 were too badly damaged. Those cars were pushed aside and will have to be cut up and removed in a salvage operation, Melonas said.
About 30 trains a day roll through the area, 20 miles north of the Tri-Cities. About four a day are coal trains, the state has said.
The cause of the derailment is under investigation.
The 125-car train with four locomotives was carrying coal from the Powder Basin in Wyoming to an export terminal at Delta, B.C.
With a growing demand for coal in Asia, there are a half-dozen proposals for new coal-export terminals in Washington and Oregon. They are at Cherry Point, Whatcom County; Longview; and Port of Grays Harbor in Washington, as well as Coos Bay in Oregon and two sites on the Columbia River.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington Department of Ecology have asked the Army Corps of Engineers to thoroughly review cumulative impacts of exporting large amounts of coal from Wyoming and Montana to Asia.
Environmental groups oppose the shipments.
They cite congestion and dust pollution and say regulators also should consider the effect on climate change from burning North American coal in Asia.
"As more trains come through, the risks of accidents go up," said Shannon Wright, executive director with Communitywise Bellingham, a group that wants studies of the local impacts of a proposed coal-export terminal at Cherry Point.
Derailments are a serious risk, said Krista Collard, with the Sierra Club's Northwest Beyond Coal Campaign.
"This is a perfect example of why," she said. "We've been calling for the corps to do a full evaluation of all six proposals from mine to rail and port to plant in Asia."
If you aren't already in the habit, it's time to create a new routine! Seattle's ban on single-use plastic bags at retail shops begins today. So slip a small tote into your purse or backpack, another into the bottom of your stroller, and a few bigger ones into the trunk of your car so that you can be prepared.
Seattle Public Utilities has information about the ban if you need it, including this insight as to what to do if you find a store that is still using plastic bags:
A call to SPU's customer service line, (206) 684-3000, will forward store names to outreach staff who will visit the location. Note that small stores – those without branches outside Seattle where they can send their existing stock of bags – are allowed some time to use up inventory. Also, strong plastic bags (2.25 mils thick or greater) are considered reusable and some stores such as department stores and book stores will be using them. You may also call this number if you see a store not charging for large, recyclable paper bags. (No charge is required for small paper bags.)
Did you know that the city of Seattle’s plastic bag ban goes into effect on July 1st? This is great news for the Puget Sound and sea animals of all varieties. Plastic bags tend to end up in the ocean, where they can be mistaken for jellyfish and other food by turtles, sea lions, whales and birds. *Also, plastic bags are made of petroleum products and natural gas and thus are another way we are using up our petroleum resources.
However, if you go grocery shopping in the rain (and we all do!), paper bags can be a pain. So dig out that collection of reusable tote bags and get them ready for action. While you’re at it, donate a few to the clients at FamilyWorks food bank.
CoolMom, a group of moms working together to save the planet, is hosting a reusable tote bag drive at four locations now through June 15th. You can find donation bins for new or used tote bags at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (Blue Building), John Stanford International School, TOPS School, and Bagley Elementary. The CoolMoms will wash all donated bags and deliver them to FamilyWorks, where your generosity will be greatly appreciated!
Questions? Please contact Kimberly.
*Other facts about plastic bags can be found here on our website.
The CoolMom and Sustainable West Seattle online Auction is live. Bidding has begun and will resume at our May 19th event. Don't forget to RSVP and Purchase your tickets here. See details below.
A Sampling of our Silent Auction items,
- a year's worth of Organic Valley product
- One of a Kind Encaustic Art
- Alki Kayak Tours
- Cedar Grove Compost and Tomato Starts
To bid go here to our online auction.
The Eby Family
4106 SW Findlay Street, Seattle 98136
Saturday, May 19th, 2 to 5 PM
Meet our CoolMom & SWS community and enjoy hors d' oeuvres, afternoon libations, and live music. Show your support through silent and live auction bidding, 50/50 raffle and direct donation.
RSVP & TICKET PURCHASE
Buy your tickets here
Please show your support and volunteer at our event. There are many volunteer opportunities to choose from here. Volunteers will receive a free CoolMom T-shirt and a free raffle ticket.
Hope to see you there!
Climate Reality Project Chairman and Founder, former Vice President Al Gore, has personally trained more than 3,000 people to deliver a multimedia presentation based on the Climate Reality Project worldwide event, 24 Hours of Reality. This is a powerful story about how climate change is affecting us now and what we can do to solve it.