Metra Creates Task Force to Investigate Air Quality

Published reports indicate toxic levels of diesel pollution on cars, in stations

Metra officials on Tuesday said they're assembling a task force and hiring an independent firm to investigate after reports of toxic diesel pollution on commuter rail cars and two rail stations

Metra executive director Bill Tupper said the agency has also asked the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency for help.

The commuter rail said Tuesday that it had hired the Chicago-based environmental and occupational health consulting firm of Carnow, Conibear & Associates.

The Chicago Tribune reported last week that pollution levels are higher on platforms, where diesel exhaust hover between Metra trains.

Tests conducted for the Tribune also found as a train pulls out of the station, the air trapped inside passenger cars contain levels of diesel soot up to 72 times higher than on streets outside.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin on Monday called for a federal investigation.

"We want to make sure we have a thorough, complete investigation to determine the danger to people on these trains and in these stations," said Durbin, the assistant Senate majority leader, during a news conference at the Ogilvie center. "Let's check the ventilation systems on the trains. Let's look at these buildings."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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