Baltimore Sun

CSX gets violation notice from Dept. of Environmen­t

Infraction­s related to Dec. 30 explosion at coal facility

- By Ashley Barrientos

The Maryland Department of the Environmen­t has sent a violation notice to CSX Transporta­tion related to the Dec. 30 explosion at the railroad’s Curtis Bay coal facility.

The notice, disclosed Wednesday by MDE, cited violations of codes and regulation­s at the terminal that included permits, visible emission standards, air pollution and environmen­tal odors.

The violation notice comes a little more than a week after the federal Occupation­al Safety and Health Administra­tion announced July 11 that it had cited CSX with serious violations of worker safety regulation­s and called for it to pay $121,000 in penalties related to the explosion.

“This is another good step in the right direction, but it’s not enough,” said Meleny Thomas, executive director of the South Baltimore Community Land Trust.

She said she wants to see more agencies tackling the root of problems caused by the coal terminal and establishi­ng “a fund where reparation­s can be issued for residents who have had to suffer for so long.”

Curtis Bay residents have reported coal dust from the CSX facility for decades, according to Greg Sawtell, a board member for the Community of Curtis Bay Associatio­n and zero-waste communitie­s director at the South Baltimore Community Land Trust.

“It’s been coming into their homes, their lungs, onto their cars, their linens from laundry they put out on lines to dry,” he said. “Yes, this is a step and we applaud it — but only if it triggers additional enforcemen­t action and is actually [a] step toward establishi­ng environmen­tal justice.”

MDE, which had been awaiting the results of the OSHA investigat­ion, said it might now seek financial penalties and corrective actions from Jacksonvil­le, Florida-based CSX.

In a statement Maryland Environmen­t Secretary Horacio Tablada said the department “is committed to using its authority to assign accountabi­lity for the explosion in Curtis Bay and to bring the CSX facility into compliance to prevent something like this from happening again.”

The MDE said in a statement that it will continue to work with communitie­s to monitor conditions in neighborho­ods affected by the explosion as part of its work to “protect and improve environmen­tal conditions.”

The department added that it has engaged with community organizati­ons in Curtis Bay to support community projects to improve air quality and public health.

This includes a partnershi­p between the community and scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland, to deploy a community air-monitoring network, which has just begun to provide data that has not yet been analyzed.

CSX did not respond to a request for comment.

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