Capdiamont\’s Weblog

The Sun: Target: Rail yard
Sunday 16 Mar 2008, 08:25
Filed under: Railroad

Much has been said about the pollution of locomotives. It takes time to change things over. The life expectancy of a locomotive is twenty to fifty years. The good of that is it reduces pollution in the manufacturing of the locomotives, but takes a while to fully replace the old ones. Like any business, including trucking, you don’t replace anything unless there is a compelling reason to do so, such as fuel savings. That is the main reason to replace things now, not pollution. Due to the need for long lasting, durable, high mileage capable things are throughly tested 1st, before accepting these new locomotive technology’s. Think over a million miles, easy. Then you have the cost around two and a half million dollars each locomotive. Yard locomotives are cheaper. Even if the class one railroads wanted to replace all of their locomotives at once, it couldn’t be done. It takes GE twenty-five to twenty-six days to build a new locomotive. There were 23,732 locomotives in service in 2006. There isn’t that much manufacturing capacity.

Green Car Congress article

EV World Article

Air board, railroad tackling emissions
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 03/14/2008 10:55:20 PM PDT

Photo Gallery: Colton Train Yard

The Union Pacific Colton Railyard spans 5 1/2 miles and runs east and west parallel to the 10 Freeway from Rancho Avenue in Colton to Sierra Avenue in Fontana.

Locomotives that roll into the switching yard daily spit soot into the air, creating an increased cancer risk for residents living nearby.

The state Air Resources Board and Union Pacific, through a strategy of using cleaner-burning locomotives and improved employee training, hope to reduce emissions at the Colton rail yard by 10percent every five years through 2020.

Statewide, the ARB is shooting to reduce
Union Pacific switchman Craig Gordon, right, unhooks two railway cars as his foreman, Ralph Castanon, controls the tracks. Union Pacific Railroad officials along with the California Air Resources Board plan to reduce emissions at rail yards throughout the state. (Al Cuizon/Staff Photographer)
emissions from all sources, including rail yards, by 85percent, said Harold Holmes Jr., manager of engineering evaluation for the ARB in Sacramento.

With railroad container traffic at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles expected to grow by 175percent from 2000 to 2020, the state’s railroads and the ARB have been working together to mitigate the impacts of increased emissions.

Under the Statewide Railroad Agreement of 2005, the ARB teamed with Union Pacific and BNSF Railway to conduct air studies at 16 rail yards in the state, including Colton, and prepare health-risk assessments for the public.

The health-risk assessment for the UP Colton Railyard was completed last month, along with health-risk assessments
for the Industry rail yard and the rail yard at the Port of Long Beach.

Nine other rail-yard health-risk assessments were finalized in November, and seven additional drafts of emissions-risk assessments will be released in the spring.

On Wednesday, representatives from Union Pacific and the ARB held a public meeting at Bloomington High School to discuss their findings.

They are welcoming public comment through April 14.

The ARB will use the public’s suggestions to address any additional mitigation measures that can be taken.

Colton resident Jess Vasquez attended the meeting and was concerned about those living closest to the rail yard.

“You have a huge amount of people coming down with cancer and asthma who are living along these rights of way,” said Vasquez, who said he grew up in a house near the rail yard. “Their deaths are being hastened by being inundated by this particulate matter coming off the trains.”

According to the study, the Colton rail yard can be divided into three areas – eastern, central and western.

The northeast side of the yard poses the greatest threat, with a 250-in-a-million chance of getting cancer for those living within 200 yards of the northeastern boundary of the rail yard.

About 400 yards from the eastern boundary of the rail yard, the cancer risk reduces to about a 100-in-a-million chance, according to the study.

The dilution of emissions as they spread over the 5 1/2-mile length of the rail yard also significantly reduces the impacts, Holmes said.

In the past 31/2 years, Union Pacific has acquired 1,000 new locomotives that use low-sulfur fuels that burn cleaner, and retired more than 2,000 older locomotives.

From 2000 to 2005, Union Pacific saw an overall 4 percent reduction in emissions from the Colton rail yard, which produces about 161/2 tons of particulate-matter emissions (soot) from locomotives a year, said Zoe Richmond, spokeswoman for Union Pacific.

Improved technologies such as idle-control devices on locomotives, Richmond said, have enabled train operators to minimize fuel consumption and emissions.

She said 97 percent of Union Pacific’s locomotive fleet are now equipped with idle-control switches, and engineers are being trained how to use them for optimal results.

“You have to change the technology, but you also have to change the mind-set of your employees,” Richmond said.

The bottom line, she said, is that it all boils down to better locomotives, better fuel and better trained employees.

Some, however, feel that the efforts of the railroads and the ARB are too little, too late.

“The problem with the rail yards is they toot their horn about being such good neighbors, but at the same time they keep adding new tracks without cleaning up what they have already,” said Rachel Lopez, campaign director for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice in Riverside, which has closely monitored emissions from local rail yards over the years and has participated in meetings with the ARB and the railroads.

While the ARB and the railroads have big plans to clean things up by 2020, she said residents living near the rail yard have to suffer in the interim.

“At this point, there are so many trains going through there that even if they do clean it up somewhat, it’s not going to make a difference,” Lopez said. “They haven’t done enough soon enough to lessen the impacts (on) those residents in the Colton area.”

Studies show that women and children living in areas with high concentrations of particulate-matter emissions have higher incidents of asthma and heart disease.

For men, the emissions can harm their reproductive systems, Lopez said.

“More and more of these studies are coming out indicating that the closer you are to these diesel sources the higher the risks,” Lopez said.

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