Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0000020
Received: 9/11/2013 1:39:10 AM
Commenter: Amy Glasser
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
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Scoping comment: Please consider and study the significant impacts on sleep from the noise created by 16 trains blowing horns at crossings throughout the night.
I would like the EIS to examine the impact of noise at the crossings next to and near homes, day care centers and hospitals (all locations that entail people sleeping/napping).
I am concerned that the noise pollution from 16 additional trains will result in increased sleep disturbances and the related health consequences associated with sleep deprivation (even if the person does not actually wake up from the train horns).
I have attached many references that identify the expected consequences of this level of disturbance for all people along the train line, from Longview to Montana and Wyoming. Risks include but are not limited to higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a lack of focus at school, on the road, and on the job. As a mental health therapist a good majority of my clients have sleep difficulties which result in increased depression, irritability, lethargy and stress. The additional 16 trains per day will exacerbate the already huge problem.
The emergent consequences that I would like you to evaluate is the cost to society and human life when the driver has a severe crash from being tired because the train kept waking him up throughout the night. Or the parent who cannot get a good night sleep loses patience with his/her child and abuses them. Or the man with a heart condition dies from a heart attack that was induced by a lack of sleep from the noise pollution. All unintended but not unforeseen.
One of the long term unintended consequences can be seen in the financial cost of the increased medical care (both physical and mental health) that will be paid by the people, employees and the government (our tax dollars) when people require increased medical care from sleep deprivation.
I would suggest that the EIS evaluation the mitigation options that will be useful but quite expensive to the county and along the route. We could request that BNSF build overpasses/underpasses throughout the route from Longview to Montana and Wyoming. They could use high technology and have cameras and alert systems that tell conductors when cars are approaching and then the newly installed gates come down and the horn is sounded at the crossing (not hundreds of yards in advance), only if the cameras show that a car is not stopping for the crossing. They can build quiet zones in urban areas. They could close off some low use roads to emergency vehicles only (the gates can only be raised by an emergency vehicle). They could install traffic lights at crossing with cameras on them. The conductors can remotely change the light to red so drivers will stop (like they do at regular traffic lights without a horn blaring) . If they see cars going through the light, then they can use their horns to warn the traffic to stop. All of these options would probably offset any revenue we may get as the railroad is not required to pay for the work on the above mitigation options. But these are ways to mitigate the noise issue. This would also not mitigate the increased noise from screeching train wheels as coal is a lot heavier and causes more noise from the trains in general. This cannot be mitigated at all unless the trains are only half full of coal (possibly less noisy).
Thank you for considering this potential impact when drafting the EIS.