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BNSF diesel locomotive

A BNSF diesel locomative engine. The company is currently exploring ways to increase automation in trains.

A steering committee tasked with translating a 62-page health study on the proposed Longview coal dock into a shorter, easy-to-read document will meet for the first of two public workshops Friday.

The workshop will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Cowlitz County Administration Building, 207 Fourth Avenue N. in Kelso. The committee will take public comments from 10 to 10:30 a.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m.

The long-awaited study, released last month, agreed with an earlier study that found diesel smoke from coal trains would increase cancer risks between 3 percent to 10 percent in neighborhoods along the railroad tracks. That’s equivalent to about one additional cancer in Cowlitz County over a 70-year lifespan.

Overall, the study attempted to answer 15 questions posed by the steering committee, including questions about the health effects of economic growth and prosperity. It was the first study of its kind in Cowlitz County.

The committee’s goal is to condense the lengthy study into a document that a person with a basic level of English can understand.

The non-binding, voluntary study is not tied to the permitting process. The state Department of Health produced the 62-page document in collaboration with the county’s Building and Planning Office and Department of Health and Human Services.

The study draws on data from an earlier 4,000-page environmental impact statement.

The final steering committee workshop is on Jan. 20, when the public will get another chance to comment.

Millennium estimates that the $680 million project would create more than 1,000 construction jobs, 130 permanent jobs and $5.4 million in annual state and local taxes.

The state Department of Ecology dealt a potentially fatal blow to the project in September when it denied Millennium a key water quality permit, finding that Millennium failed to demonstrate the coal terminal could meet state water quality standards.

Meanwhile, a Cowlitz County judge last month gave the state Department of Natural Resources 60 days to explain why it denied Millennium’s request to build its terminal on state-owned aquatic lands.

Millennium is now a plaintiff to five different lawsuits related to the project, including a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for Western Washington last week that names Gov. Jay Inslee and two members of his administration as defendants.



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