The Sierra Club, along with partner organizations, filed suit against BNSF Railway over coal dust from trains. Comprehensive independent studies have not verified that surfactant sprays significantly reduce coal dust for long-distance travel. In any case, current federal legislation does not mandate that surfactants be used and it is unclear what materials are used in their manufacture.
Farmers along the rail route have been reporting coal dust on crops. It is not difficult to find coal dust along the tracks in many places, thus negating the argument for containing dust with surfactants.
Coal dust harms the environment, wildlife and people. Asthmatics, children, the elderly and patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are especially vulnerable. Scientific studies undertaken by independent researchers in the U.S., Israel, Spain and Canada have demonstrated that coal dust does irreparable harm to marine life.
There has been much discussion about proposed coal export facilities on the West Coast, which will necessitate many more coal trains per day on the rail lines abutting the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
In the event that these export facilities are approved, I would suggest that the name be changed the Columbia River Coal Chute.