Emissions from KC rail yard affecting neighborhood health - KCTV5 News

Emissions from KC rail yard affecting neighborhood health

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Community members in the Argentine neighborhood are concerned about their health because of a nearby rail yard.

People living there say they have proof the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard is causing them to become seriously sick.

The rail yard is the reason the neighborhood exists. It created jobs, families moved there and it could also be the same reason many start moving out.

Tom Valverde's home is so close to the BNSF rail yard, the second largest in the nation, that he can hear the train.

But it's not the noise that bothers him, it's the air he breathes.

Air quality meters found extremely dangerous levels of diesel emission at Valverde's house.

"We're right here, 100 yards from the trains and when they are idol they are kicking out diesel fuels which are full of contaminants," Valverde said.

Neighbors got the Environmental Protection Agency involved to find out if the diesel emissions are making them sick. The Good Neighbor Committee monitored air quality in the yards of homes near the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard for over a year, and found 45 percent of their readings exceeded dangerous levels of diesel exhaust air pollution.

At a meeting Wednesday night, residents were told it puts them at higher risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations on the day of exposure or cardiovascular mortality two and three-days post-exposure.

"It's a whole mix of poisons that is sitting on top of a diesel particle," said Eric Kirkendall, director of the diesel health project.

Residents want BNSF to take action and make changes.

They suggest that BNSF build a train maintenance facility with air purifiers to treat the exhaust to move toward zero emissions beyond their fence line. They also want to see a carbon monitoring system installed along the property.

Valverde says he thinks this explains more about his mother's sudden health decline which lead to her death.

"We need them to make the adjustments necessary so we can live down here and not worry," Valverde said.

BNSF representative Andy Williams made a statement regarding the Argentine yard emissions:

"BNSF has a long history in the Argentine community and we are proud of our efforts to continuously lessen our impacts on the environment. We will review the study to understand the group's methodology and whether it complies with scientifically acceptable testing standards. It should be noted that in October 2013 BNSF began transferring the intermodal operations that were conducted at our Argentine Yard facility to Logistics Park Kansas City in Edgerton, KS. By February 2014, 90 percent of that business had been transferred to LPKC with the remaining 10 percent transferred by November 2014. That change in our operation at Argentine occurred during the group's testing period. Also noteworthy is the fact that the move resulted in BNSF removing five diesel-operated cranes from Argentine. Those cranes were replaced with new, zero emission, electric cranes at LPKC that load and unload intermodal containers. The move also eliminated the need for daily trips made by hundreds of trucks to the Argentine facility to pick up and drop off intermodal containers. Trucks entering and exiting LPKC are processed through an automated gate using digital cameras, which reduces truck-idling time and associated emissions by at least 50 percent."

"Lastly, BNSF's locomotive fleet is the newest and cleanest operated by any freight railroad in the United States meeting all federal and state regulations regarding carbon emissions."

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