EAST PALESTINE - A coal dust problem from trains near Clark Street is so bad Village Manager Peter Monteleone has notified the Ohio Rail Development Commission in Columbus.
He said in a letter to the commission the village administrative office has been "inundated with calls" from residents complaining about the "massive black clouds of coal dust" over the last year.
The dust is from the Norfolk Southern freight trains carrying coal through the center of the community. Residents' complaints are that it has caused reduced visibility and is difficult to remove from cars and clothes.
"These very large clouds blanket everything in and around their path with a layer of black filth," Monteleone said.
He also said the Chevy dealership located next to the railroad tracks with an inventory worth hundreds of thousands of dollars has to repeatedly remove the coal dust from their vehicles, and residents in the area must constantly clean layer upon layer of dust and debris from their properties. Some have even had to keep their windows closed to keep the dust from coming into their homes.
"Families who try to enjoy the outdoors with their children must constantly be on the lookout with each and every train that comes through for a looming cloud of black dust," he said.
He wondered why the dust has only recently become a problem in the last few years and asked if the railroad company was doing anything different.
Councilman Alan Cohen said at the Aug. 26 meeting a surfactant exists that could alleviate the problem and Monteleone asked the commission in the letter if the railroad company has it available.
"Is this product currently in use and if it isn't what is the reason?" he asked.
The surfactant functions similar to hairspray, Cohen said last month, and is sprayed on the coal to keep the dust down.
Monteleone sent copies of his letter to Columbiana City Manager Lance Willard, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, Columbiana County commissioners and the Columbiana County Health Department.
"It is my hope that you will support our efforts in reaching a resolution in this filthy and unhealthy situation with the railroad by also writing a letter," he said.
He also notified the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio of the problem.