Southern California environment news and trends

Diesel soot pollution in railyard air isn't solid waste, says federal court

Molly Peterson/KPCC

Containers transferred off-dock by truck then take to rail lines. These containers sit atop rail lines in the ICTF. People who live across the street say the fumes and noise are hazardous.

A federal judge has dismissed efforts by environmental groups to hold rail yard companies responsible for pollution under the law known as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Last year we reported on the filing of this case. 

The Natural Resources Defense Council and others had argued that the hazardous waste from rail yards is in exhaust

Pettit likens diesel particulate pollution to a shotgun blast. "If someone points a shotgun at you and pulls the trigger, what comes out of the barrel is the hot gases and the shotgun pellets, and it's not the gases that kill you, it's the pellets, the particles that kill you, the pellets. And it's the same way with diesel exhaust, you suck those particles into your lungs with arsenic and lead and bad stuff on them, you suck them into your lungs and they don't come out again, and that's what kills you." Petit pauses. "This legal theory, if it works, will be of national significance, and we'll be able to use it all over the country."