BNSF, watchdogs settle coal dust lawsuit in Washington state

SEATTLE (AP) — BNSF Railway and seven environmental groups have settled a lawsuit saying that coal spilled from trains pollutes waterways in Washington state.

BNSF admits no wrongdoing in the settlement finalized Friday.

The plaintiffs had argued that coal spilled from open-topped train cars is polluting the Columbia River and other waterways in the Pacific Northwest.

BNSF will pay $1 million for environmental projects in Washington state to clean up areas in Bellingham, Puget Sound, the Columbia River and Spokane River. It will also conduct a study of the use of physical covers for coal and petroleum coke trains.

BNSF spokeswoman Courtney Wallace said the $1 million settlement is small compared with initial lawsuits that sought trillions of dollars. The original allegations were sweeping and unfounded, she said.