Letter: Coal dust linked to health risks



Many in the Vancouver-Portland area are unaware of the proposed trains that will be transporting more than 150 million tons of coal annually from mines in Montana and Wyoming through Spokane, down the Columbia River Gorge, then up through Tacoma, Seattle, Bellingham and Ferndale. Each day, dozens of trains, each with 120 cars, will be coming through our neighborhoods, dropping as much as 200 pounds of coal dust every mile of the route. Coal dust is linked to asthma and lung diseases in children and contains lead, selenium and mercury, all linked to cancer, birth defects and heart disease. It will require constant cleanup, reduce property values along the route, clog traffic at crossings, increase derailments and could destroy much of the physical beauty of the area.

Some short-term jobs would be created, and billions in profits are waiting for the mine owners, railroad and shipping companies, but few if any advantages exist for those of us who live here. Most of those receiving the profits live elsewhere, yet we will suffer the consequences. If we continue to ignore this issue, it will soon be here permanently. If you are concerned, let your representatives know.

Terry Nichols