The council claims that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately evaluate the environmental effects of the nearly 500-acre rail hub that would be located about 30 miles south of Kansas City. The lawsuit contends that the rail hub, along with a proposed warehouse complex next door, will generate substantial air pollution for people who live nearby and for the region.
"The thousands of trucks expected to move in and out of that rail yard every day will produce toxic diesel fumes that could pose serious health problems for the surrounding communities, including increased rates of asthma, respiratory disease and cancer," said Melissa Lin Perrella, an attorney for the organization.
In December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for BNSF Railway to build the $250 million freight yard, concluding that the project wouldn't have a significant effect on the environment. However, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other critics want the corps to conduct a deeper and more expansive environmental investigation.
"The corps' initial environmental review for the project indicates that air quality impacts have been understudied and unreported," the defense council said in a statement.
The corps couldn't be reached Monday, but BNSF said it was confident the permitting process thoroughly examined the issues.
"We look forward to providing the project's significant economic, environmental and fuel-efficiency benefits to the Kansas City region," spokesman Steve Forsberg said.