Norfolk Southern permeates its own hometown, Norfolk, Virginia, with coal dust.




(Where to complain)


(What YOU can do)



(SEE the polluting) 

Swipe Tests

(How and Why)


(Coal terminal)

Smigiel Letter

(City Council resolution)


(The published facts)

The Norfolk City Council on Coal Dust

The Smigiel Resolution

City Councilman Thomas Smiegiel has asked the Norfolk City Council to support a resolution requesting that Norfolk Southern do something about the coal dust problem. This resolution is a worthy read:


Sign the petition requesting that the Norfolk City Council approve the Smigiel resolution to reduce coal dust


But despite Councilman Smigiel's cogent argument, most of the Norfolk City Council did not seem concerned. Mayor Fraim and most of the Council seem intent on ignoring Councilman Smiegiel's request, and ignoring something like 90,000 pounds of coal dust blowing into the neighborhoods:

Let's see: Grimy coal dust constantly having to be cleaned off citizen's property; coal dust containing various heavy-metal toxins and carcinogens; soil containing five times the normal amount of arsenic; a big, wealthy corporation refusing to stop polluting its own hometown, even though it could easily afford to stop clean up its act and stop its polluting. So what's not to be against? What's the political downside to coming down on the right side of this issue?


Let's do another study — more stalling?

On April 28, 2015, after more squeaks from the neighborhoods, plus test results showing that dust collected in the neighborhoods contains large amounts of coal dust, the members of the City Council invited representatives from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to brief them on the latest about the coal dust situation. Unbelievable things were said by the DEQ reps. For example, apparently the DEQ had been relying on air qauality data for the last 20+ years from air monitors owned and operatied by Norfolk Southern. Now it seems that all that data was worthless, since the data collection methodology did not meet the DEQ's standards. Duh? So now, the DEQ plans to conduct a new air quality study, with two new air monitors — again, owned and operated by Norfolk Southern. And since it will take Norfolk Southern two to three months to install these monitors, and another year to collect the new data, then the DEQ several months more to analyze the data — voila! Norfolk Southern gets to skate another 1.5 to 2 years on the coal dust issue.

Norfolk Southern gets another 1.5-2 years to pollute


The lone medical doctor who used to sit on the city council, Dr. Theresa Whibley, said that the science is still out on the dust. So there isn't enough "evidence" even to ask Norfolk Southern to clean up its act? But isn't it better to err on the side of caution? Is there any evidence that all those tons of coal dust are harmless, all those tons of coal dust that Norfolk Southern allows to blow into the neighborhoods, that 90,000 pounds per year that the Virginia Department. of Environmental Quality estimates?

Dr. Whibley, by the way, represented Norfolk's Ward 2, the voting ward containing Lamberts Point and West Ghent, the two neighborhoods closest to the source of the coal dust. And in all fairness to her, she has said that coal dust pollution is indeed unacceptable, whether it's on our window sills or in our lungs, but that Norfolk Southern claims its data shows that the dust is mostly, if not entirely, from other sources than Norfolk Southern. Dr. Whibley said that she would welcome any independent data that shows otherwise. But we have such data.

Click on the map below to see the full-size original on the City of Norfolk website:


The Mission

From the City of Norfolk's website:

The City of Norfolk shall provide leadership and direction responsive to the needs and desires of all citizens of Norfolk. This shall be done in an efficient, equitable, cost-effective manner that uses available resources for the maximum benefit.

Leadership shall be directed to strengthening Norfolk as the economic and cultural hub of Hampton Roads, to preserving and enhancing the environmental setting and assets of the city, and to improving the quality of life and opportunities for the diverse populations living in, working in, and visiting Norfolk.


Contact Your City's Leaders


Sign the petition requesting that the Norfolk City Council approve the Smigiel resolution to reduce coal dust







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