Sustainability in action:
A Norfolk Southern ‘River Star’
Norfolk Southern is committed to reducing its footprint on the environment, part of its pledge to be a good corporate neighbor and environmental steward. Ray Jones, a 32-year railroader, lives that commitment.
Ray Jones’ environmental stewardship took root while growing up on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Va., our headquarters’ city. As a youth, he spent much of his free time on the water and saw firsthand the damage imposed by years of industrial pollution and neglect.
“I’ve seen the river change over the years, and I’ve realized I can do something to make a difference,” Jones said. As assistant division manager of Mechanical Operations at our Lamberts Point export coal transload facility, Jones is doing just that.
Since returning to the waterfront facility in 2002 from Roanoke, he has helped oversee the railroad’s efforts to improve the river’s water quality. That includes construction of a multi-million-dollar stormwater reclamation project, and a “Hydrocyclone” filtration system that removes coal particles and pollutants from stormwater runoff.
In addition, he supported efforts to establish artificial oyster beds offshore of the terminal, to foster the restoration of oysters in the river. He has also been involved in our plans to develop a living shoreline that will restore wetlands and natural habitat. He is one of the terminal’s points of contact for the nonprofit Elizabeth River Project, the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; conservation groups working to protect and conserve the commercial and recreational waterways on the river and bay.
Jones’ efforts helped Lamberts Point achieve Model Level status in the Elizabeth River Project’s River Stars program, the organization’s highest designation for business members.
To recognize his commitment, Norfolk Southern selected Jones as its nominee for the 2012 John H. Chafee Environmental Excellence Award, sponsored by the Association of American Railroads. Jones and five other railroaders from the nation’s largest railroads were recognized at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., for demonstrating the highest level of environmental stewardship during 2012.
The 425-acre Lamberts Point facility is the largest marine coal export terminal in North America. Recognizing the environmental and economic benefits of reusing stormwater runoff from the property, Jones helped oversee Norfolk Southern’s development of a $1.3 million stormwater reclamation project. In early 2013, the terminal installed a hydro-cycling feature, an infrared filtration system that removes coal particles and other impurities before sending the water into a holding tank where additional contaminants are removed. The reclaimed water, nearly clean enough to drink, is used to spray coal cars during dumping to minimize dust and to clean coal conveyors.
The project is leading to the reuse of more than 1 million gallons of stormwater every month and helping Norfolk Southern conserve water. It is reducing the railroad’s use of municipal water by an estimated 18.3 million gallons annually.
“We’ve had huge savings in our use of city water,” Jones said. “Plus, we’re saving the river’s ecosystem by capturing the stormwater runoff and reusing it.”