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US Study Shows No Coal Dust Impact

Feb 4, 2014

February 4th, 2014

Name: Mark Lambrecht
Phone: 406-594-2955


No Coal Dust Found in Study Samples Gathered in Impact Study

(Helena, Mont.)—The Treasure State Resource Industry Association (TSRIA) announced that a recent independent review of the 2012 Missoula City-County Health Department coal dust study confirmed it is “unlikely that coal dust emissions generated by the transportation of coal by railway will have health impacts on the public.” The study, which focused on analyzing samples according to the EPA’s guidelines on particulate matter and nuisance dust, concluded that the traces of coal, were too small to account for in the study and cited the primary sources of air pollution in Missoula as wood stoves and vehicles.

The study, conducted by the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) in late 2012, was initiated as a result of citizen concerns over increased railcar traffic through Missoula associated shipments of coal. Using the MCCHD data, TSRIA commissioned Bison Engineering of Helena to re-analyze the study to confirm that coal dust is not prevalent and that increased rail traffic related to coal poses no public health threat.

“Coal development not only produces the majority of the energy used in Montana, but it’s a major contributor to our communities and the overall economy of our state,” said Mark Lambrecht, Executive Director of the TSRIA. “This study provides factual evidence that opponents to coal development in Montana and the proposed coal ports in Washington and Oregon have no case. Coal dust does not fall off trains in Missoula, Helena or anywhere else. This proves the national Sierra Club, Northern Plains Resource Council and local affiliate groups have no interest in dealing with facts, but would rather scare the public and policy makers into thinking there’s a problem—when none exists. Coal development is, and should continue to be, a central component of Montana’s energy strategy.”

Bison Engineering’s review noted a significant conclusion of the MCCHD study—no coal dust could be detected in its dust samples from four different locations near the railroad. The MCCHD study—and Bison Engineering agreed—even if coal dust had been found, it would be of a size the EPA classifies as harmless “nuisance dust”, not particulate matter that is regulated for human health concerns. Nuisance dust is defined as particles larger than 10 micrometers, which often settles out close to the source and may cause a nuisance by damaging or soiling nearby structures. Particulate Matter, on the other hand, is defined as inhalable coarse particles and liquid droplets smaller than 10 micrometers. These are typically the result of residential wood stoves and vehicles in the Missoula Valley.

“The coal companies in our state go to great lengths to mitigate dust and it is obvious that their good efforts are working. The bottom line is that coal is not a substance the public needs to be concerned about.”

The Treasure State Resource Industry Association (TSRIA) provides representation for farmers, ranchers, labor, business, industry, recreationists and trade associations in Montana.




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