Letters to the Editor for Feb. 14, 2012

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Coal companies don’t follow the rules

In regards to the article “Coal train issues continue to generate local interest,” I want to point out that coal companies are not actually following rules about mitigating coal dust. This certainly isn’t the first time “Big Coal” is cutting corners at the expense of human health and safety.

As a nurse and a grandmother, it is important to me that my grandchildren have a safe and healthy community to grow up in. But the proposals to bring 26 coal trains through Camas and Washougal every day would mean a huge increase in diesel pollution (containing benzene and formaldehyde) and coal dust (containing mercury, arsenic, and lead) in the air we have to breathe. These toxic substances are linked to asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease.

BNSF themselves admit that coal dust comes off in such large quantities that it builds up on the tracks and causes dangerous train derailments and can even start fires.

Our local leaders and businesses have worked hard to improve our downtowns. Health and safety impacts aside, the noise, traffic delays, and hit to property values alone would undermine this work. Please, apply your leadership to stopping these coal trains.

Dorethea Simone, RN, BSN, Camas

Coal trains will have negative impacts

Coal dust is just the tip of the iceberg in the potential impacts of coal trains in our community.

Traffic congestion alone from an additional 20 to 30 1.5-mile long train would result in long transportation delays in our community, cutting off river access, hurting local business, inconveniencing commuters and delaying response times for emergency vehicles. This would also deter developers from wanting to invest in the community, tourists from wanting to frequent the downtown area, and families from wanting to move in.

Noise from the rumbling of these trains would lower quality of life. Real estate and property values would be negatively impacted by this type of project. Train traffic at this volume increases the likelihood of derailment, particularly when you are transporting coal.

The Camas-Washougal Post-Record article of Feb. 7 was misleading about coal dust regulations. It fails to mention that many shippers are not required to spray chemicals on the coal to retard dust from escaping. If shippers are not required to follow regulations, I wonder if they are?

Larry Keister, Washougal

CEF needs community support

Last week, volunteers from the Camas Educational Foundation’s “Prize Patrol” visited every school in the district to award $30,000 in mini-grant funds to teachers, parents, students, and staff.

CEF has been active for 15 years, helping to fund innovation and enrichment, and augment curriculum across the Camas School District. Our annual auction in Fall and our Spring Phone-a-Thon are the primary sources of funding to support our annual grant programs.

At last October’s auction, a special collective bid raised over $10,000 to provide science education kits to every elementary school in Camas. This program began as a CEF mini-grant at Grass Valley Elementary and contributed to a dramatic rise in science test scores. Based on this success, science teachers across the district requested and were awarded funds to expand the program. We continue to scale successful mini-grant programs into district wide major grant successes.

The CEF Phone-a-Thon will run between Feb. 21 and Feb. 23, and we hope to raise more money for our grant programs. Please respond generously when our kids call for donations and watch for announcements of our coming Iron Chef, Fun Run, and Annual Auction.

CEF is a 100 percent volunteer organization with a wonderful mission. We’re always looking for new volunteers and sponsors. More information about and donations to CEF can be found and made at

Ron Gompertz, President, Camas Educational Foundation