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Judge in Seattle allows coal train case to proceed

SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge Wednesday in Seattle allowed a lawsuit about coal trains to proceed against BNSF Railway.

Seven environmental groups sued BNSF last summer, alleging it violated federal law by allowing coal dust, coal chunks and other pollutants to spill into protected waterways from open-top railcars.

U.S. District Court Judge John Coughenour denied BNSF’s motion to dismiss the case. The railroad company argued the groups didn’t give sufficient notice and didn’t have proper standing to sue.

Trains currently carry coal from the Rockies through Spokane, Seattle and along the Columbia River Gorge to an export terminal in British Columbia. More such trains are expected if coal-export terminals are built.

The environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and RE Sources For Sustainable Communities, argue BNSF violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging coal into local rivers without a permit.


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