Saturday, January 26, 2013

Losing the load:

Last October Nancy and I were at a dinner party in Seattle.  The coal train topic was a lively discussion during the evening.  At one point a story was shared about a former railroad executive from the East now a farmer with vineyards along the Columbia River.  He was concerned about the amount of coal blowing, bouncing, and otherwise being "lost" from the coal cars passing near his vineyard and home.
Don McDermott at his vineyard near the Dalles along the Columbia River
I spent the morning talking and walking with Don through his vineyard and along the adjacent rail line.  Currently there are about 3 coal trains a week on the route.  The proposal could up that number to 10 trains a day each with 125 to 150 coal cars.
Darker strip along the rail is powered coal
The coal cars travel uncovered from the Powder River Basin to the Pacific Coast.  The coal is highly combustible. Covering the loads is not an option. 
Each rail car is known to lose 600 pounds of coal along the route
Much of the lost coal becomes a finer powder which can be airborne as the wind blows.
Powdered coal along the rail 4 to 6 inches deep
Don was a railroad man.  He speaks highly of them.  He also knows what is beginning to happen to his home, his vineyards, and his lifestyle.  I will share more of his story in his own words when I finish the trip.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

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