The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Rail Yard Pollution

Jul 21, 2014

Some 340,000 Chicagoans are exposed to dangerous diesel exhaust because they live near “intermodal” terminals, where containers are moved between rail cars and trucks.

This exhaust creates soot that gets into lungs and causes asthma, heart, and brain damage. It takes years off many people’s lives.

Of course, the terminals are in working class and poor neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago and in the near suburbs, where 80% of the people are black or Latino. The wealthy have always lived far away from the pollution their companies cause.

New locomotives are required to use technology that greatly reduces diesel pollution–but thousands of old locomotives remain on the rails. The railroads could be forced to replace their old locomotives as quickly as possible. But instead, the Democrats who run Illinois have given these rail giants $110 million out of fuel taxes to clean things up. Why should workers’ taxes pay to help giant, multi-billion dollar companies? They are the ones poisoning us!

And the companies say this isn’t enough to replace all the old locomotives. So they’ll keep putting out their poison, with the politicians’ help.

By putting the corporations’ profits before local residents’ health, the Democrats make it clear: They serve businesses like the railroads, not the working class and poor people of Chicago.