Thursday, September 19, 2013

AP: Agreement to cut pollution from Chicago rail yard

Photo by rmccallay on flickr
Looks like this freight rail yard has finally gotten an OK with some back and forth between residents, the city, and Norfolk Southern Railroad:
Chicago and Norfolk Southern officials agreed Thursday to cut diesel pollution from a rail yard on the city's South Side to address residents' concerns that a massive expansion project would add to existing air pollution and cause health problems.

The 140-acre freight yard in Englewood, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods, transfers more than 480,000 containers a year between trains and trucks. The company wants to add another 85 acres and another 800 diesel trucks a day, and is buying land from the city and residents.

Under the agreement, Norfolk Southern will install the newest pollution controls on trucks that move trailers around the yard by 2018 and install clean engines or diesel filters on cranes and lift trucks, while the city will alleviate congestion from the semi-trucks that sometimes queue on local roadways waiting to get into the yard.

The company also will set up a $ 1 million fund for neighborhood environmental projects and spend another $1 million on job training and economic development, officials from the city and Environmental Law & Policy Center said. It also will donate an old elevated rail track that the city will convert into green space.
That last paragraph let's break it down further with more information from the Sun-Times:
Englewood residents and their environmental champions have extracted a string of concessions from Norfolk Southern armed with a new study that concludes that the project would make the pollution problem worse in a neighborhood that has long suffered from high rates of asthma.

Norfolk Southern has promised to retrofit trucks and construction equipment. The railroad also has promised to contribute $3 million toward transportation improvements, thousands more to area schools and to donate unused rail spurs that the city hopes to convert into an elevated bike trail akin to the Bloomingdale Trail.
The Tribune adds:
Commissioners unanimously approved the changes Thursday after the railroad agreed to immediately clean up a dozen forklifts at the yard. By 2018, Norfolk Southern also will upgrade engines or install pollution controls on all but two of 38 diesel-powered machines that transfer freight containers between trains and trucks; the other two will be upgraded the next year.

Without the improvements, an analysis by the nonprofit Environmental Law and Policy Center estimated, the freight yard expansion would substantially increase pollution in a neighborhood already plagued by high rates of asthma. Using a computer model developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the group found that worrisome levels of soot could spread several blocks beyond the site.
Well, may many of these concessions be put to good use in Englewood. Especially the elevated trails and certianly the money for neighborhood schools. And may the enviornmental issues be alleviated.

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