Chicago Residents Challenge Freight Yard Expansion


Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development, said that federal officials regulate train and truck pollution, although the city “continues to work with Norfolk Southern, the community and environmental groups to adequately address all the concerns related to the expansion, including its economic impact, infrastructure needs and the environment.” Emanuel eliminated the city’s Environment Department.

Diesel emissions include harmful chemicals and microscopic particles that can lodge deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing respiratory and heart problems. The issue of pollution from locomotives has been raised across the country, as rail traffic increases and yards expand.

In Chicago, the problem can be particularly acute because the nation’s largest freight lines pass through the city, often creating a bottleneck that can leave trains idling for days.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center, a Chicago advocacy group working with the residents, released a study in July that predicted the planned Norfolk-Southern expansion would increase diesel pollution several blocks from the site, including at levels exceeding federal safety limits. But the company, which plans to use cleaner-running locomotives, insists that the expansion would not increase pollution and disputed the group’s analysis, said Faith Bugel, a senior attorney at the ELPC.

She believes monitoring will demonstrate the problem with hard data. The monitors were provided by the Richmond, Calif.-based group Global Community Monitor.

Bugel said ELPC wants the company to upgrade all freight-handling equipment – including tractors, cranes and forklifts _ or install pollution filters on them, and wants the city to reduce traffic congestion from the semitrucks that sometimes queue on local roadways waiting to get into the yard.

She also said that complying with existing environmental laws isn’t enough in communities where polluting activity is concentrated or comes from numerous sources, “especially when we’re documenting pollution at a level that will be harmful.”

“The heart of the problem is that the laws we have … are insufficient,” she said. “We’re finding out on a daily basis that diesel pollution is much more harmful than was thought.”

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Posted by on Oct 1st, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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