Submission Number: MBTL-EIS-0000653
Received: 10/8/2013 11:51:04 PM
Commenter: Sally Snyder
Agency: Cowlitz County, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Initiative: Millennium Bulk-Terminals Longview EIS
Attachments: No Attachments
My name is Sally Snyder. I am a native Oregonian and a child health practitioner, currently living in Eugene, Oregon. I have a number of siblings, nieces and nephews who are long-time residents of Vancouver, Washington.
I am writing to express my concern about some of the immediate and long-term negative impacts that would result from the construction of the proposed coal export facilities in Longview, WA, and to strongly urge that the scope of the environmental impact study include the thorough examination of the potential impact on the health of humans and the ecosystems at both the local and regional levels and the economic and other costs associated with these impacts.
I am very concerned about the release of coal dust into the air from the open train cars all along the rail lines, and from the coal piles at the terminal, as well as the accumulation of this material as it settles on and near towns and cities and in soils and waterways, locally and regionally, over time. Researchers from Washington State University and West Virginia University have shown that people living in areas exposed to coal dust from mountaintop mining experience higher rates of a range of significant health issues. This includes higher rates of high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, kidney disease and several types of cancer. They also found a significantly higher rate of lower birth weight babies and shorter life expectancy overall for people living near these mines. While the volume of coal dust release along coal train rail lines and from coal piles may be less than what occurs in surface mining areas, verifiably accurate estimates of coal dust release and accumulation amounts over time must be made, and the potential health impacts and associated costs accounted for.
A related concern I have is with regards to the impact of potential train derailments, resulting in the dumping of coal into soils and waterways. With such a large number of trains traveling over rail lines, the potential for damage to tracks and structural failure increases. This potential must be evaluated and accounted for in determining the potential regional financial and environmental costs of this proposal.
Another pollutant that would have a significant impact on human health and must be considered is the diesel particulate matter emitted by the estimated 16 trains per day that would be transporting the coal to the terminal. This substance has been shown to cause serious health effects in humans, including cancer.
I am also concerned about the impact of coal dust and diesel particulate matter releases on the health of the ecosystems near the rail lines and the terminal, particularly those of the Columbia River. This ecosystem already carries a heavy and growing load of pollutants from agriculture, human habitation along the river, and very likely from the radioactive substances leaking, or on the verge of leaking, from the failing waste storage tanks on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The cumulative effect of adding coal dust pollution to this mix of pollutants, not just the individual effect, must be studied as it relates to the loss of habitat for fish and other species and the economic and other costs associated with these potential losses.
Thank you for your consideration.