Through the Safety and Environmental Department, Norfolk Southern operates a robust environmental protection program that is an integral part of railroad operations.
The company has internal controls and procedures to ensure that operating facilities meet or exceed applicable environmental laws and regulations, including the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Oil Pollution Control Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The railroad’s environmental protection efforts follow industry best-management practices, and we continually monitor what other large railroads and Fortune 500 companies are doing to identify opportunities to improve.
While we have a staff dedicated to environmental protection, Norfolk Southern’s policy is that every employee is responsible for safety and environmental compliance, and all employees have access to the company’s environmental management program on a corporate intranet site.
Employees who manage the company’s environmental policies and compliance programs work alongside operations employees to ensure railroad facilities comply with applicable permits, rules, and environmental laws. These employees report to a system director and are divided into five specialty groups as follows:
This “boots on the ground” group works with local operations department supervision to ensure understanding of and compliance with environmental regulations and corporate best management practices; manages approximately 80 wastewater-treatment facilities; provides field management of solid and hazardous waste programs; and offers 24/7 emergency preparedness and response to spills and releases.
This group manages the design and construction of pollution-control equipment to ensure that wastewater-treatment plants and related infrastructure meet or exceed applicable environmental regulations. The group also helps monitor the performance of facilities to assess the need for upgrades or new construction to ensure continued environmental compliance.
This group ensures that environmentally impacted company-owned properties are characterized and remediated through use of innovative and often technically complex strategies.
This group monitors and manages the company’s compliance with various environmental permits and plans. It conducts regular environmental audits of operating facilities and other properties, and designs, develops, and distributes environmental awareness and employee training programs.
This group manages risks associated with rail transport of hazardous materials and ensures compliance with federal regulations on transporting hazmat. The group designs and administers training programs for employees, industry members, and community first responders to enhance emergency preparedness and response capabilities in the unlikely event of a hazmat incident.
To minimize business impacts and ensure compliance, Norfolk Southern invests substantial sums in environmental protection initiatives. In 2014, the company’s spending on capital improvements and compliance and remediation projects totaled $47.7 million.
Spending on Capital projects, at $9.6 million, included installing a 1 million gallon stormwater equalization tank at the company’s Enola, Pa., Yard and rebuilding oil and water separator facilities at four yards in North and South Carolina.
The company spent a little more than $38 million to support environmental compliance initiatives, emergency response to derailments, and remediation activities at sites around the system.
Many of the railroad’s environmental investments ensure that the company remains in compliance with permits that govern the quality of wastewater discharged from railroad facilities. Systemwide, Norfolk Southern at the end of 2014 held 161 water discharge permits for treated wastewater, water from repair and maintenance operations, sanitary water, and stormwater. Upgrading and installing state-of-the-art wastewater treatment systems is a priority for Norfolk Southern.
Norfolk Southern operates two locomotive shops that qualify as large-quantity generators of hazardous waste. Under federal regulations, these are facilities that generate at least 1,000 kilograms, or 2,205 pounds, of such wastes in any month of the year.
In 2014, the paint shops at Juniata Locomotive Shop in Altoona, Pa., and Moore Locomotive Shop in Chattanooga, Tenn., generated more than 56,000 pounds of waste paint and solvents combined. The shops contract with licensed disposal companies permitted to transport, treat, and dispose of hazardous wastes. Some flammable liquid wastes are burned in boilers or kilns for energy recovery, but most of the waste is disposed of in landfills designed for hazardous wastes.