Letters to the Editor for Feb. 21, 2012

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Deeply concerned about coal train impacts

Last week, I experienced a well-over 12 minute delay at a rail crossing in Washougal as a 125 coal car, four engine train grinded slowly past. An additional 20 to 30 trains daily bodes an incredibly negative impact upon local businesses and the extensive redevelopment effort currently shaping Washougal into the premier gateway destination to the Gorge.

As for “suppressants,” some shippers state outright that they will not comply. Evidently, they don’t want to expend the extra money for the proposed safeguard. As reported in “Platts Energy Week,” suppressants are only a voluntary measure. There is no enforcement mechanism in place — with a mere estimate of 30 percent voluntary compliance.

We are not convinced that the coal dust deposits will not inflict serious health hazards and environmental degradation upon our Gorge communities and residents.

On the verge of significantly enhancing the quality of life and desirability of Washougal as a community and tourist destination, we must remain vigilant and informed regarding the potential devastating impacts of this coal trains proposal. Health implications, increased noise day and night, further property devaluation, decreased livability, heightened derailment potential and the impact on emergency vehicle response times — we are deeply concerned.

Teresa Robbins and Keith Brown, Washougal

Support the Red Cross

March is Red Cross Month — a time to recognize the work of the Red Cross in our community, and a time to recognize local donors and our more than 600 volunteers by letting them know how much we appreciate and depend upon their support to help people in need.

Last year chapter volunteers assisted 112 families that had fallen victim to disasters, provided service to 545 military families, trained 9,099 people in lifesaving skills, and collected 24,417 units of blood.

Nationally, the Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year, provides support to members of the military, assists veterans and their families, collects and distributes more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply, and last year trained more than nine million people in first aid and other lifesaving skills.

To those whose generosity enables us to continue this work, thank you. For those who would like to become part of the Red Cross movement, Red Cross Month is a great time to get involved. You can help by making a donation, becoming a volunteer, taking a class, and/or by giving blood. Please help us help those in need by supporting your American Red Cross.

Randall C. Salisbury, Red Cross Board chair

No coal trains; keep C-W lovely

I’ve heard lots lately about the additional trainloads of coal slated to pass through the Camas-Washougal area soon. Blowing coal dust is a dangerous by-product of this transit and it sounds as though BNSF is planning to mitigate its effects by spraying the coal with a “topper” agent.

This agent has been of dubious value when used in Australia. I hope it works here, and I hope that someone will also address the huge amount of diesel pollution produced by an additional 20-plus trains per day as well as the tail-pipe emissions from cars waiting for trains that are over a mile long.

Trains are noisy, can be dangerous, and will lower our property values just as we are struggling to emerge from this terrible recession. I don’t think they will raise the quality of life here or bring us any jobs. In addition, coal trains might discourage new business from locating here because of the projected traffic congestion, and this congestion might harm established businesses.

This proposal is not in our area’s or Southwest Washington’s best interests by any measure. Camas and Washougal are lovely places to live; let’s keep them that way.

Diana Gordon, Washougal