The Washington State Department of Ecology has fined BNSF Railway $86,000 for placing creosote-treated railroad ties and other materials from maintenance projects in Whatcom and Skagit county water bodies.

Share story

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The Washington State Department of Ecology has fined BNSF Railway $86,000 for placing creosote-treated railroad ties and other materials from maintenance projects in Whatcom and Skagit county water bodies.

The department’s water quality program manager, Heather Bartlett, said Tuesday that BNSF has “repeatedly disregarded water quality protection.”

The fine is over four BNSF projects done from 2013 to early this year. Officials say the company left creosote pilings in Chuckanut Bay, put newly treated railroad ties along wetlands in Burlington, and placed debris and ties in an area that floods seasonally and drains into Bellingham Bay.

Creosote is a preservative that is toxic to aquatic life, and the state says it has spent millions of dollars removing it from waterways.

BNSF can appeal. Spokesman Gus Melonas said the company is reviewing the fine, takes environmental protection seriously and fixed the problems cited by Ecology.