Railroad company to pay $19 million fine for lead sulphide discharges

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) has agreed to pay $10 million in fines and restitution and a further $9 million in remediation costs for lead sulphide discharges from the company's railroad car cleaning operation north of Cherryville, Missouri.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis found that the company was found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The cleaning of railroad cars containing lead concentrate residues caused the lead sulphide discharges.

From April 1992 through April 1994 BNSF discharged lead sulphide into Cherry Valley Creek without a federal permit. In addition, on April 8, BNSF employees failed to notify the appropriate government agency that it had released a reportable quantity of a hazardous substance into the environment.

On December 4, BNSF agreed to pay a fine of $7 million and to make restitution to the state of Missouri in the amount of $3 million to be distributed as follows: $1 million to the Natural Resources Protection Fund; $1.25 million to the Hazardous Waste Remedial Fund; $250,000 to the Hazardous Waste Fund; $300,000 to the Missouri Department of Health: and $200,000 to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The case was jointly investigated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Criminal Investigation Division of

the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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