Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Railroad settles suit over destruction of butterfly habitat

Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co. recently paid $72,500 in damages for wildfires sparked by its trains in March 2012 at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The railroad company entered an agreement in February and paid the damages after the U.S. District Court entered judgment, officials said. The U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday that two of its employees, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wayne Ault and Senior Civil Investigator Paul Drapac, recently were recognized by the National Park Service for their work on the civil case. The federal government alleged in a civil lawsuit filed in March 2014 that two Indiana Harbor Belt locomotives ejected hot cinders and ignited fires as they passed through western portions of the national park March 10, 2012. The fires burned habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and destroyed experimental data on the insects. In its answer to the government's claims, the company said it didn't have enough information to admit or deny that several spark traps on the trains were plugged and moderate to heavy carbon accumulation was found on the front exhaust stack openings...more

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