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CSX Transportation reaches settlement with Department of the Environment over 2021 coal plant explosion

BALTIMORE - CSX Transportation reached a settlement with the Maryland Department of the Environment over an explosion at its coal exporting plant in Curtis Bay nearly a year ago.

Under the settlement, CSX Transportation is required to fund a community-led energy-efficient rehabilitation of a vacant building for use as an environmental education, research, and training center for the Curtis Bay community.  

Curtis Bay residents file lawsuit against CSX over negligence from 2021 explosion 00:36

The company must provide $100,000 to a community organization performing an environmental project to benefit the neighborhood and its residents.   

The settlement also requires CSX to pay a $15,000 penalty to MDE and take a series of corrective actions in response to the explosion, including safety improvements to the facility and coordination with Baltimore City officials to improve emergency response and notification procedures. 

"In this enforcement action the Maryland Department of the Environment took decisive steps to assign accountability for the explosion in Curtis Bay and to require actions to help prevent something like this from happening again," said Maryland Environment Secretary Horacio Tablada. "This enforcement action includes an important environmental project that will directly benefit the Curtis Bay community. This goes hand-in-hand with MDE's support of air monitoring in the community and our targeted compliance effort of facilities to protect and improve environmental conditions in that area."  

Residents in the Curtis Bay community also filed a class action lawsuit against CSX Transportation, claiming negligence resulted in a health-harming explosion at its facility in 2021.

 The explosion happened on Dec. 30, 2021, at a coal silo on Benhill Avenue. It shattered windows and damaged homes.

The lawsuit states "knowing, intentional and reckless" conduct by CSX caused the explosion that released "poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals."

CSX has operated out of Curtis Bay for 140 years, said Brian Hammock, the vice president of State Government Affairs for CSX. He said the explosion was caused by a building of methane on the conveyor belt that wasn't being ventilated. 

Residents said the air pollution the explosion caused has been around for decades because of the coal plant.

The residents who filed the lawsuit said the lawsuit left them with "potentially lethal levels of coal dust.

The CSX Transportation facility in Curtis Bay is used from incoming and outgoing rail services. It has a railyard, a coal transfer yards, railcar offloading infrastructure, pier loading facilities and maintenance and operations buildings.

in late December, 2021, an explosion happened in the North Reclaim Tunnel. 

The residents in the lawsuit claim CSX Transportation failed the maintain the facility with care and they "breached that duty by negligently and improperly operating, supervising, and/or maintaining the Curtis Bay Facility in such a manner that proximately caused the release of coal dust and dangerous contaminants that blanketed the Class Area."

The 12-page lawsuit said the negligence resulted in "unreasonable release of coal dust and other dangerous contaminants."

The lawsuit claims CSX failed to adequately control the facility and had inadequate staffing."

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