SEATTLE -- Coal trains rolling through Washington state are apparently leaving a trail behind.
A Puget Sound protection group made that discovery that could help opponents of a proposed coal terminal in this state.
"They tested positive for coke and coal," said Chris Wilke of Puget Sound Keeper as he held up a large stone sent to him by a concerned resident. Wilke and Puget Sound Keeper collected several more from underpasses along the BNSF railway through Seattle.
Coal and its derivative coke are transported in open cars up the BNSF rail line through several communities on their way to a Canadian export facility. Coal companies are hoping to construct a similar terminal near Bellingham that would load ships with coal from Montana and Wyoming to China. The plan would dramatically increase the amount of coal trains running through the state.
Wilke and other critics have argued against the plan claiming it would threaten dozens of sensitive rivers and stream that the line crosses as it dissects the state.
Just last week a group of 100 doctors and health professionals in Whatcom County deemed coal dust a threat to human health.
Supporters have questioned claims of leakage along the lines and promised the project would create badly needed jobs.