Creosote-treated railroad ties contaminate water in Washington
BNSF Railway agreed to pay a $75,000 settlement for a 2015 penalty for water quality violations. According to the Washington State Department of Ecology, the railway placed creosote-treated railroad ties—which are toxic to aquatic life—in water during maintenance projects in Whatcom and Skagit counties in Washington.
The penalty was reduced from $86,000 to $75,000 with BNSF's agreement to take measures to prevent water pollution when the wooden railroad ties are replaced. The Department of Ecology and BNSF will chose a water improvement project to receive $45,000 of the settlement in Whatcom or Skagit counties. The remaining $30,000 will be deposited into the department’s coastal protection fund for grants.
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the railway acted quickly to resolve these concerns and that BNSF maintains that the $45,000 portion of the settlement isn't punitive.