A federal judge this week allowed an
environmental lawsuit involving coal-dust emissions in Seward to proceed in
In a 27-page ruling signed on
Monday, Anchorage federal District Judge Tim Burgess denied motions by the
Alaska Railroad and Aurora Energy Services to dismiss the case.
Two environmental groups are suing
the companies over coal dust and debris that ends up in Resurrection Bay due to
operations at the coal export terminal at the downtown Seward port. The
railroad owns the terminal and Aurora, a firm affiliated with the Usibelli Coal
Mine, operates it.
The groups, Alaska Community Action
on Toxics and the state chapter of the Sierra Club, say the coal that ends up
in the bay violates the Clean Water Act and has been a public health hazard in
Seward for many years.
The companies argue they can't be
sued under the Clean Water Act because the state is regulating coal dust from
the Seward terminal under its air pollution rules.
In his ruling, Burgess said he might
eventually be convinced that the coal emissions are not covered by the Clean
Water Act, but at this point, "the Court cannot agree that the mere fact that
the pollutants travel some distance through the air defeats liability.Ē