BNSF, watchdogs settle coal dust lawsuit

By The Associated Press

BNSF Railway and seven environmental groups have settled a lawsuit saying that coal spilled from trains pollutes waterways in Washington state.

In this Oct. 3, 2013, file photo, opponents of coal export projects float a message to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber over the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Ore. BNSF Railway and seven environmental groups in Washington and Oregon have settled a lawsuit saying that coal spilled from trains polluting the Columbia River and other waterways in the Pacific Northwest. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, file)

SEATTLE (AP) — BNSF Railway and seven environmental groups have settled a lawsuit saying that coal spilled from trains pollutes waterways in Washington state.

BNSF admits no wrongdoing in the settlement finalized Friday.

The plaintiffs had argued that coal spilled from open-topped train cars is polluting the Columbia River and other waterways in the Pacific Northwest.

BNSF will pay $1 million for environmental projects in Washington state to clean up areas in Bellingham, Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Spokane River. It will also conduct a study of the use of physical covers for coal and petroleum coke trains.

BNSF spokeswoman Courtney Wallace said the $1 million settlement is small compared with initial lawsuits that sought trillions of dollars. The original allegations were sweeping and unfounded, she said.

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