The Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee had a great community meeting last night.
More than 30 people attended, including committee members, other Argentine residents, and representatives of Global Community Monitor, the Kansas Sierra Club, Diesel Health Project, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The BNSF Railway did not send representatives.
The CBS affiliate TV Station KCTV5 was there, and showed this news report on the evening news. The Kansas City Star sent a reporter and photographers, but has not yet run a story.
Leticia DeCaigny opened the meeting by providing background on how the project began and was conducted.
Her husband Ryan DeCaigny discussed the health risks of diesel exhaust, and the results of their monitoring, which showed that community members are subjected to dangerous levels of diesel exhaust from the Argentine Rail Yard Locomotive Maintenance Facility.
Judy Ancel presented the requests the Good Neighbor Committee made earlier this month to the BNSF Railway, and told them that BNSF had not yet responded. The requests were:
- To enclose in a building the area where locomotives being overhauled at the maintenance facility are tested and to place air handlers and scrubbers on the roof of that building to treat the exhaust thus limiting contamination of the air both to employees and the neighborhood.
- To develop a plan to move toward zero emissions beyond their fenceline as soon as possible, and to have no locomotives with greater than Tier 3 emissions within three years. To achieve this BNSF will need to put in place an accelerated schedule of upgrades and retrofitting of switch engines. (We assume BNSF is using low sulfur fuel that will allow the upgrade.)
- To install a real-time fence-line monitoring system to check black carbon, elemental carbon or other diesel markers.
- To keep the Good Neighbor Committee informed on a regular basis of progress in lowering diesel particle emissions.
There were many good comments and discussions, One of the most important points was made by Richard Mabion who emphasized that the Good Neighbor Committee is not opposed to the rail yard – they are opposed to the rail yard polluting the air they breathe and endangering their health.
Richard described solutions to these problems that BNSF has implemented and proposed at other rail yards; and said that he wants them to use the cleanest possible technologies in Argentine too.
The Good Neighbor Committee had a sign up sheet and several people joined.
At the end of the meeting, the committee distributed copies of the report produced for the group by the Global Community Monitor. It can be viewed on-line and downloaded here.