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Environment

CSX gets violation notice from Maryland Department of the Environment regarding December coal explosion in Curtis Bay

The Maryland Department of the Environment has sent a violation notice to CSX Transportation related to the Dec. 30 explosion at the railroad’s Curtis Bay coal facility.

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The notice, disclosed Wednesday by MDE, cited violations of codes and regulations at the terminal that included permits, visible emission standards, air pollution and environmental odors.

The violation notice comes a little more than a week after the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced July 11 that it had cited CSX with serious violations of worker safety regulations and called for it to pay $121,000 in penalties related to the explosion.

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“This is another good step in the right direction, but it’s not enough,” said Meleny Thomas, executive director of the South Baltimore Community Land Trust.

She said she wants to see more agencies tackling the root of problems caused by the coal terminal and establishing “a fund where reparations can be issued for residents who have had to suffer for so long.”

Curtis Bay residents have reported coal dust from the CSX facility for decades, according to Greg Sawtell, a board member for the Community of Curtis Bay Association and zero-waste communities director at the South Baltimore Community Land Trust.

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“It’s been coming into their homes, their lungs, onto their cars, their linens from laundry they put out on lines to dry,” he said.

“Yes, this is a step, and we applaud it — but only if it triggers additional enforcement action and is actually step towards establishing environmental justice,” Sawtell said.

MDE, which had been awaiting the results of the OSHA investigation, said it might now seek financial penalties and corrective actions from Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX.

In a statement, Maryland Environment Secretary Horacio Tablada said the department “is committed to using its authority to assign accountability for the explosion in Curtis Bay and to bring the CSX facility into compliance to prevent something like this from happening again.”

The MDE said in a statement that it will continue to work with communities to monitor conditions in neighborhoods affected by the explosion as part of their work to “protect and improve environmental conditions.”

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The department added that it has engaged with community organizations in Curtis Bay to support community projects to improve air quality and public health, including a partnership between the community and scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Maryland to deploy a community air monitoring network, which has just begun to provide data that has not yet been analyzed.

CSX did not respond to a request for comment.

For the record

A previous version of this article misspelled Meleny Thomas' name.


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