In June 2011, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent letters to two major railroads to put them on 90-day notice of a potential lawsuit under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act. Last week, the NRDC followed through and sued BNSF and Union Pacific, requesting that the railroads replace older locomotives with newer, cleaner models and reduce locomotive idling.

The lawsuit presents an innovative and new interpretation of an existing law. The Resources Conservation and Recovery Act is a law that regulates the disposal of solid hazardous waste. Many who look at the law would interpret that to mean that diesel exhaust emissions are not covered. The NRDC, on the other hand, is asserting that diesel exhaust is made up of two parts, a gas and solid particles that are suspended in the gas. These solid particles then should be covered under the law that regulates solid hazardous waste.

Diesel fume exhaust has been linked to many health problems for railroad workers and those who are exposed to railroad exhaust fumes, including heart problems, asthma and many kinds of cancer including lung, laryngeal and esophageal. If you or a member of your family have been injured by exposure to diesel fumes or diesel exhaust, please call us at 1-800-374-2144 or contact us through email.