Many “green” type folks are all concerned over various pollutants, pipelines, etc., yet I see nobody really complaining about the filthy coal dust from the coal trains.
Years ago, there were only about 50 or so small cars in a coal train, only a few trains and the resulting dust was pretty small. Today there are more than 150 cars per train and the number of trains has increased dramatically. When the trains are going very slow, there is very little problem with the dust. But, as soon as they are up to about 15 – 20 mph a vacuum is produced in the tops of the cars lifting the coal dust out. The faster the train goes the more dust is sucked out of the top of the cars. Empty cars are really not much better. There is dust and coal residue in these cars and the vacuum produced by the empty cars is greater than the full ones. Therefore the remaining coal and dust is sucked out of the cars and spread over the area on each side of the railway and expanding into surrounding areas.
If there is any wind at all, this dust is carried far and away – sometimes miles.
Now, there is a simple solution to the problem. Cover the cars. I see that the railway does cover some bulk loads (probably expensive ore) with a cover made by Eco-Fab.
This appears to be a simple fiberglass cover that lifts off when dumping and put back on to return to the loading area.
So why don’t the railways do this. I think if we ask that question the answer will be cost. Well, the railways didn’t have any qualms about scrapping the old steel coal cars and opting to buy new aluminum cars so why not go the next step and cover the coal cars? I am sure that over time the retained coal that will be dumped in Vancouver, instead of blowing out, will pay for the covers.
Look at their financials and the stock values. Now is the time that they are rich and can spend the money on coal car covers.
There is getting to be so much coal dust blown all over the landscape that I wouldn’t doubt if some folks living near the rail lines are going to suffer from black lung disease – no kidding.
So, how about it, you environmentalists – lets get on the bandwagon and write the railways and express our opinions. A letter to your MP and MLA wouldn’t hurt either.