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The Associated Press June 21, 2011, 12:06PM ET

NRDC threatens US railroads with pollution lawsuit

An environmental group has sent letters warning two U.S. rail companies to prepare for a federal lawsuit if they don't undertake measures to clean up hazardous waste their facilities emit into the air from diesel engines in 16 California rail yards.

The Natural Resources Defense Council on Tuesday sent letters to Union Pacific Corp. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway saying they will file a lawsuit within 90 days under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which regulates hazardous solid waste disposal. The NRDC argues that minute particles in diesel air pollution are solid waste.

The NRDC notes that the railroads are major carriers of containerized cargo from Asia.

If successful, such a lawsuit could open the door for suits against similar air pollution sources such as ports.

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