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Costs of Coal Exports, Part III: Margaret Fox of Maryland


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14 October 2013, 8:16 AM
"It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility."
Coal dust and soot coats Fox's property inside and out. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)

(This is the third in a four-part series profiling communities that could be seriously impacted by increased toxic air and water pollution resulting from the federal government’s financing of the export of Appalachian coal to Asia.)

This week, we meet Margaret Fox who lives near the CSX coal export and processing facility at the Port of Baltimore.

This is her story:

Margaret Fox is 73-years-old, and a life-long resident of the Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore. Her neighborhood already bears an unjust load of industrial pollution—its zipcode ranks among the worst in the state and the country for respiratory risk caused by concentrations of toxic air pollutants.

For 50 years, Ms. Fox has lived half a block from one of the culprits—the CSX coal export and processing facility. As coal trains travel to the facility, coal dust flies off the tops of their cars and diesel soot spews from their engines. Large ships loaded with coal emit significant amounts of soot as they leave the port.

Coal storage area and loading facility near Philippi, WV. Large, uncovered piles of coal sit until they are loaded onto CSX rail or trucks for transport. (Cindy Rank)
Coal storage area and loading facility near Philippi, WV. Large, uncovered piles of coal sit until they are loaded onto CSX rail or trucks for transport. (Cindy Rank)

"I have seen, heard and felt impacts … over the course of my entire life," says Fox. "It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility."

From her front porch, Fox watches coal dust blow into the air as trains dump coal from open cars, into chutes, onto conveyor belts and onto ships. She hears the trains and heavy machinery from inside her house—and the loud operations sometimes continue all night long.

Coal dust and soot coat her property inside and out. "I see it on my furniture, deck, window sills, and siding of my house, and on door frames and air conditioner vents in my home," says Fox. A white carpet she once installed turned black after barely four years.

The coal conveyor belts of the CSX coal export facility are visible above the rooftops of Ms. Fox's Curtis Bay neighborhood. Dust blows from the facility and onto surrounding neighborhoods. (Chesapeake Climate Action Network)
The coal conveyor belts of the CSX coal export facility are visible above the rooftops of Fox's Curtis Bay neighborhood. Dust blows from the facility and onto surrounding neighborhoods. (CCAN)

Fox fears the impact that exposure to coal dust and soot is having on her health and that of her family. Over the past three years, there has been a 30-percent increase in coal being exported from Baltimore's coal terminals. Further expansion of the CSX facility could be a breaking point for Fox.

"It scares me to think that more coal will be exported from this facility," she says. "More coal dust on my property and in the air I breathe could make it unbearable for me to stay in my home."

Margaret Fox's story was recorded and generously made available
by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

Jason Reed. (CCAN)

Next week in the final part of this series, we meet Jason Reed, who directs and manages the Filbert Community Garden in Curtis Bay, located atop a hill about four blocks from the CSX coal export terminal.

If you missed it, read in part one about Lorraine Ortega of Virginia's story and Earthjustice's work in challenging the U.S. Export-Import Bank's approval of financial support for coal exports, and Maryland resident Desiree Bullard's story in part two.

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