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AAR bestows environmental excellence awards


On April 30, Association of American Railroads named Bob Toms and Melvin Burda winners of John H. Chafee Awards for Environmental Excellence, which recognize environmental achievements from professional environmentalists employed by railroads and rail workers.

A CSX Transportation senior general foreman in Indianapolis, Toms participates in the Class I's Hazmat Sentinel program — CSXT's first line of defense in an environmental emergency, such as a hazardous-materials spill — and is part of a team developing Sentinel Plus, a more advanced haz-mat program.

Toms also initiated a waste minimization program in his shop, and prompted CSXT to switch from solvent- to steam-based products to clean shop floors and from petroleum- to graphite-based products to lubricate rail-car doors.

An environmentalist since 1977 and current chairman of AAR's Environmental Affairs Committee, Burda developed a program for Burlington Northern Santa Fe aimed at removing asbestos from structures, communications facilities and locomotives. He also coordinated environmental training for more than 13,000 BNSF workers, and helped review and update the railroad's environmental policies.

AAR also honored five rail employees for their environmental work:

• Paul Agren, Amtrak roadway mechanic, for recycling efforts;

• Gary Biggs, Union Pacific Railroad maintenance supervisor, for helping reduce fuel spills and recycling contaminated diesel;

• Matt Bruno, Canadian Pacific Railway machinist, for voluntarily monitoring and ensuring proper disposal of hazardous waste storage materials;

• Trent Hudak, BNSF manager of engineering, for managing the design and construction of environmentally sensitive track and facilities; and

• Robert Leonard, Norfolk Southern Railway electrician, for helping ensure wastewater doesn't discharge into a Pennsylvania river.

Presented by Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.-R.I.), the awards are named after his late father, a leading environmentalist who promoted railroading's environmental advantages.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/1/2003