Letters to the editor, April 30- May 6

The Editor:

Do you love the beautiful Blaine environment as much as we do? But have you ever been walking along the beach, neighborhoods or parking lots and been a bit disappointed when you come across trash? We are fortunate to have a group of young folks from our community who want to do something about it. They are mobilizing to take action and have come up with a great idea and are asking for participation.

They are calling this group action a trash-a-thon and are reaching out seeking donations per bag of trash collected or just toward the cleanup event itself. The cleanup in Blaine will be Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and Birch Bay on Saturday, May 16 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

If you donate, you will not only be helping to beautify Blaine, but will also be helping to fund the Peace Arch Church youth summer camp-out at Birch Bay State Park. If you are interested in donating or have a child who would like to participate please contact Brandi Bell at 661/448-0486, pacyouth@peacearchassembly.org or facebook.com/peacearchchurch.

Anne Broward

Blaine

The Editor:

Oil and coal trains pass through our community daily and they pollute our and the world’s environment. How as a community can we stop them? If trains are just a part of our lives, then how can we as a community at least make our three railroad crossings noise pollution-free as Bellingham is trying to do and White Rock has already done?

Leonard Kellom

Blaine

The Editor:

GPT proponents continually repeat GPT’s fantasy propaganda and ignore facts. Last week’s letter writer who proclaimed GPT would provide “more than 1,000 permanent local jobs” needs to read GPT’s official project application documents that state the most jobs the terminal would provide is, “213 shift workers and 44 other workers.”

The writer’s claim that GPT would be another “good neighbor industry” ignores the fact that none of Cherry Point’s existing industries seem to want GPT for a neighbor; none of them has endorsed GPT. GPT’s plan for 18 coal trains a day traveling through our communities on the same track as crude oil and chemical trains is dangerous for our existing industries and us. BNSF studies indicate GPT’s addition of 18 daily coal trains would increase the risks of Cherry Point’s crude oil and chemical trains derailing. In a 2011 lawsuit about the cause of train accidents, BNSF testified the train derailments were caused by coal dust from trains that “…combined with water from extraordinary amounts of precipitation, weakened the road bed and caused track failure.”

Local residents who are most familiar with the facts have debunked the writer’s other propaganda proclamations. A total of 214 Whatcom County doctors debunked the writer’s proclamation that GPT would “surpass all of Washington’s extremely high standards” on environment. These doctors are “deeply concerned” about GPT because there is no “safe threshold” of exposure to the toxic coal dust and diesel emissions GPT coal trains would release. And although GPT coal trains would block Washington and Whatcom County railroad crossings on average every 80 minutes daily, GPT would pay 0 percent of costs to improve our railroad crossings (we taxpayers would pay 95 percent and BNSF 5 percent). One railroad overpass can cost $40 million.

The Ferndale school district superintendent debunked GPT’s propaganda about school taxes. In an October 22, 2012 letter about GPT to the school board, the superintendent wrote, “Our district will not receive any more money as a result of this project … it isn’t going to cause an influx of money into our school system.”

Paula Rotundi

Birch Bay

The Editor:

Circumstances in our overcrowded jail have reached the lethal stage. We have been dithering about the problem for 20 years; meanwhile, the odds for a catastrophe increase every day.

Jails are designed to keep people in. In an emergency, they are not quickly evacuated, not in older jails. A mock fire drill done two years ago came up with people dead, both employees and inmates. The time needed to get them out of there was too great.

So what happens after disasters like that? You don’t have to be brilliant to know lawsuits will follow. A few large damage awards will bankrupt our county. They  would cost far more than a new modern jail would, and we would have nothing to show for our outlay but empty coffers and a ruined county.

We can deal with the problem now and build a new jail or continue dithering, keep having pie-in-the-sky philosophical conversations. It’s our choice.

Joan Browning

Bellingham

  1. Mr. Kellom, There are two ways to eliminate or reduce the sound of train horns. One, is to add two more gates at each crossing so that it is impossible for idiots to drive around a gate onto the tracks. The second, is to install what’s called “wayside horns” at each crossing. Wayside horns are activated when the crossing arms are activated. They focus amplified horn sounds only at oncoming traffic. You can barely hear them one block away and not at all from two blocks away. The problem with both solutions is cost. There is no justification for train horns to disturb everyone within miles of a crossing when technology exists to limit or reduce the noise. If nothing else, technology similar to wayside horns should be applied directly to train horns so that the sound is focused directly ahead of the train. But we all know that nothing will change until the railroad companies are forced by law to join us in the 21st century.

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