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Score Another Loss For Alexandria Against Norfolk Southern

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Norfolk Southern owns the rail yard where liquid ethanol is pumped from rail cars to tanker trucks.
Alexandria Fire Dept.
Norfolk Southern owns the rail yard where liquid ethanol is pumped from rail cars to tanker trucks.

By Michael Pope

Leaders in Alexandria, Virginia, are considering an appeal of a recent court decision. It's the latest in a two-year legal battle against a hazardous materials facility owned by Norfolk Southern. The city wanted to regulate when and how hazardous materials could be transported on Alexandria's streets.

Two years ago, Mayor Bill Euille was unequivocal about the case.

"I don't care if it embarrasses us in the national press as it winds its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. We are going to do everything we can to cease operations, shut you down and get you out of the city," says Euille.

Now, not so much. The city lost its case before the Surface Transportation Board. Then it lost in federal court. Last an appeals court agreed, localities don't have the authority to regulate railroads. City taxpayers have already paid more than $400,000 on legal representation in the case, prompting a change in tone from Mayor Euille.

"If we are continuing to go down the road where each and every step we take we are being denied, you know, you have to weigh what is your best choices or do you keep spending taxpayers dollars on defense, and we'll make that decision, hopefully soon," he says.

Euille says a decision could come in the next two weeks.

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