KEARNEYSVILLE – Old railroad ties left in bundles alongside railroad tracks owned by CSX Corp. near Luther Jones Road were removed last week after an area resident held a news conference accusing the company of maintaining an un-permitted open dump.
Daniel Lutz, who heads the Mountain Party in Jefferson County, said the problem is endemic throughout the state.
“There are hundreds throughout West Virginia,” Lutz said. “They are polluting. It may only be a small amount, but a thousand pinpricks can add up to a sizable wound.”
Lutz said creosote, the oily substance the ties are soaked in to prevent decay, has been identified as a probable carcinogen.
CSX denied any wrongdoing.
“Safety is CSX’s first priority, and we stage and store our equipment in a way that protects the safety of our employees and the local community,” wrote CSX spokeswoman Melanie Cost. “The cross ties stored in Bardane were in organized bundles on CSX property, and the storage had been reviewed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. They have been removed and are being reused as part of CSX’s commitment to the reuse and recycling of materials when possible.”
But Lutz said the ties should not have been left at the site in the first place.
“If they really cared about safety they never would have left them there that long,” he said. “When they’re hauled someplace else, they carry [insects] with them.”
Lutz said the incident reflects a general problem with enforcing environmental and health regulations on corporations in the Mountain State.
“If there is a law, everyone should have to obey it,” he said. “The problem is that regulations on individuals are enforced to the letter, but in West Virginia corporations are granted immunity.”