The announcement, effective October 1, 2011, came as the railroad introduced new coal-dust mitigation requirements for coal shippers put in place to prevent damage and contamination of rail ballasts caused by fugitive coal dust. It requires shippers use a BNSF-approved dust-mitigation product that reduces in-transit coal dust “by at least 85% as compared to loss in transit of coal dust from coal cars where no remedial measures have been taken.”
It also mandates shippers provide a written notice of their compliance efforts 30 days before intended use, giving coal shippers who do not currently treat coal to BNSF standards approximately 60 more days to put a dust-abatement plan together and get it approved.
“Right now Soil-Sement is the only approved product being used in the Powder River Basin to ‘top’ coal cars to prevent coal dust from escaping during transit,” said Bob Vitale, Midwest CEO and founder. “We were proponents of environmental protection long before being so was vogue or required, which is why Midwest was well positioned to meet all BNSF requirements.”
For safe, controlled and easy application of Soil-Sement, Midwest developed a year-round containerized, operator-friendly Coal CarTopping System, which installs permanently. The application bar adjusts to match the profile of coal in a railcar; product is protected against freezing with a heated container, and in adverse weather conditions, operators remain warm in a heated, raised booth from which there is a clear view of the coal cars being sealed.
Formulated with million-molecule nanotechnology to penetrate and seal coal to prevent dust from escaping, Soil-Sement has been tested and verified by Simpson Weather Associates Laboratory (for weatherability) and Southern Company (for burnability). It was also tested and certified by the California Air Resources Board, the U.S. EPA, and the Canada Environmental Technology Verification programs. BNSF’s tests were for corrosion, safety and performance.
Only two other products were approved by BNSF to date.