Coal Transportation

Environmental impacts result from the transport of coal. Coal transportation is accomplished through rail, truck, water, slurry pipeline, or conveyor; however, most is performed by rail. Environmental impacts occur during loading, en route, or during unloading and affect natural systems, manmade buildings and installations, and people (e.g., due to injuries or deaths) [23]. All forms of coal transportation have certain common environmental impacts, which include use of land, structural damage to facilities such as buildings or highways, air pollution from engines that power the transportation systems, and injuries and deaths related to accidents involving workers and the general public (e.g., railway crossing accidents). In addition, fugitive dust emissions are experienced with all forms of coal transport, although precautionary measures are increasingly being taken [23]. It is estimated that 0.02% of the coal loaded is lost as fugitive dust with a similar percentage lost when unloading. Coal losses during transit are estimated to range from 0.05 to 1.0%. The amount is dependent upon mode of transportation and length of trip but can be a sizeable amount, especially for unit train coal transit across the country.

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