Pin It
Favorite

Coal Trains Coming 

The Environmental Protection Agency weighs in on coal dust. Plus, a peace protest turns into pandemonium in Colville.

click to enlarge art17865.jpg

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken notice of the uproar in Spokane and other communities about the possibility of more coal shipments passing through.

In early April, the EPA issued a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers outlining the potential harm caused by coal dust coming off uncovered freight trains (and more diesel fumes from the locomotives).

“Coal dust is a human health concern because it can cause pneumoconiosis, bronchitis and emphysema,” the letter states, adding that the dust is also an environmental concern because it settles on water, soil and vegetation.

The recommendation was made as part of the public comment for a coal-shipment facility being considered in the Port of Morrow, Ore. The project is one of at least six proposed coal-shipment facilities in Washington and Oregon. Since several rail lines converge in Spokane before spreading out to the coast, Spokane could see a surge in trains carrying coal.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps’ Portland district says the corps will consider a recommendation.

“It’s not really anything out of the ordinary,” says Michelle Helms, a spokeswoman for the Corps, referring to the letter.

But Bart Mihailovich, the Spokane Riverkeeper, commended the EPA for “sticking their neck out on this one.”

“I just feel like it’s a little bit of an unpopular thing to do,” Mihailovich says of the EPA letter. “News like this certainly helps shows that it’s becoming more of a statewide issue.”

Coal exports to Asia from the United States grew 176 percent between 2009 and 2010, or 17.9 million short tons’ worth, The Inlander reported in March. (Joe O'Sullivan)

Peace Sign or Communist Plot?

Peter Quinn’s plan was simple: turn Colville’s mountainside “C” sign into a peace sign. It was meant to be an Earth Day protest against war.

The 50-some people who turned out to a Colville City Council meeting to discuss it, however, told Quinn otherwise.

“‘Look, Earth Day isn’t even Earth Day — Earth Day is nothing but a communist celebration,’” Quinn says the majority of the audience told the City Council earlier this month. “So they just got that one going, they called us all the antichrist, they compared the peace sign with the inverted cross and all kind of craziness.”

Meanwhile, the city’s planning and streets department weighed in, saying it was a bad idea because it could be seen as defacing public property and might open the door to the “C” being used by other groups.

And so, after a raucous meeting, Quinn withdrew his proposal. But while he may have lost the battle, Quinn says the war is not lost.

“I’m just getting people talking about peace, you know what I mean?” Quinn says. “And even though they wouldn’t let us put the peace sign up, there’s a lot of talk about peace.” (Chris Stein)

  • Pin It

Speaking of...

  • Train Tax?
  • Train Tax?

    Spokane voters will consider fines on oil and coal trains on November's ballot
    • Jul 28, 2016
  • Cause For Alarm
  • Cause For Alarm

    Residents of a remote part of Stevens County say something is making them sick, but no one is sure exactly what it is
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • Beneath the Surface
  • Beneath the Surface

    Will changing conditions in Lake Coeur d'Alene stir up its toxic history?
    • Jun 16, 2016
  • More »

Latest in News

  • OK, Hold Your Nose
  • OK, Hold Your Nose

    Everything you need to know before Election Day
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Base of Support
  • Base of Support

    Polling local leaders and opinion-makers about presidential politics
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Messenger
  • The Messenger

    Local leaders weigh in on how Donald Trump's campaign has impacted racism in America
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Sculpting Mammoth Animals with Peter Thomas

Sculpting Mammoth Animals with Peter Thomas @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Sun., Sept. 25 and Sun., Oct. 2

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Joe O'Sullivan

  • R.I.P. Spokane
  • R.I.P. Spokane

    Exploring the Spokane of South Dakota — left for dead long ago
    • Jun 11, 2013
  • Beating On
  • Beating On

    Ska and new wave legends the English Beat land in Spokane
    • Mar 26, 2013
  • Green Water
  • Green Water

    Will Congress say yes to more hydropower?
    • Feb 27, 2013
  • More »

More by Chris Stein

  • Ready for Anything
  • Ready for Anything

    Developing agility may help prevent injury
    • Sep 1, 2012
  • PAML's Next Step
  • PAML's Next Step

    Francisco Velazquez insists on symmetry. Even sitting at a huge table flanked by leather-backed chairs and a jumble of expensive video equipment, he makes sure his Blackberry and iPhone (the former for business, the latter for pleasure) are situated in neat symmetry with each other.
    • Sep 1, 2012
  • Burns Out
  • Burns Out

    As the city scrambles to keep Tim Burns around for a while longer, the police ombudsman says he may leave his post anyway
    • Aug 22, 2012
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Murrow's Nightmare

    Debate moderators need to be much more than an onstage prop to make our democracy work
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

election 2016


trail mix


Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Chewed Out
  • Chewed Out

    A Spokane city councilwoman wants to change how City Hall staffers eat on the public dime
    • Feb 5, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation