Public Health Experts Highlight Health Risks of Coal Trains in Oakland

Human Impact Partners collaborated with a panel of public health experts to conduct an independent study – An Assessment of the Health and Safety Implications of Coal Transport through Oakland – of the health and safety risk of transporting up to 10 million tons of coal per year through the proposed bulk export terminal at the former Oakland Army Base.

The study found that coal trains significantly increase concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in communities along rail lines due to emissions of both coal dust and diesel exhaust. PM2.5, even at levels already found in Oakland, is definitively associated with premature death and many severe medical problems including increases in lung cancer, hospitalization for heart and lung disease, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, adverse birth outcomes, school and work loss and respiratory symptoms.

The study looked at other potential health impacts of the proposed project, including through explosions, climate change, and noise. It also reviewed the potential mitigations that have been proposed, including covering the rail cars carrying the coal and storing the coal indoors at the Army Base, and found that these mitigations are unproven and largely experimental.

Click here for the press release.

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