So far this month, The Bellingham Herald has run five stories about mudslides along the BNSF railroad tracks and the effects of these slides on passenger and freight traffic: "Slide hits BNSF tracks in Nisqually area," "Mudslide derails BNSF train in W. Washington," "Passenger train moratorium extended by new slide," "Mudslides plague railroad tracks near Mukilteo," "BNSF: Indefinite moratorium on passenger trains between Seattle, Everett."
These frequent mudslides warn of major problems that will occur if North America's largest coal-export terminal is built at Cherry Point. The forthcoming Environmental Impact Statement should examine two issues related to mudslides.
First, the dramatic increase in rail traffic (18 very long trains every day) will increase congestion. What will the effects be of mudslides on rail traffic if the terminal is constructed? When mudslides stop rail traffic, where, at what cost, and paid by whom will these trains be "parked" while the tracks are being cleared and safety inspections are conducted?
Second, what effects will heavy coal trains have on these steep slopes? How many additional mudslides will occur because of the vibrations caused by these trains? This analysis should consider environmental (land, water, flora, fauna) as well as economic effects (both on property affected by the induced slides and on railroad delays).