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A group in Somerville, Texas, RightsforAmerica ( has put out an open letter to billionaire Warren Buffett chronicling the plight of its residents after the alleged burning of toxic railroad ties by Burlington North Santa Fe Railroad Company, a corporation in which Buffett is the largest shareholder. Somerville registers some of the highest dioxin levels ever recorded and its residents have suffered a host of horrific health problems as a result, including rare and agressive cancers and birth defects.

The letter, which was released on CSR Wire ( is re-printed in full below.

Text of Letter to Warren Buffett

You are the largest shareholder in Burlington North Santa Fe Railroad Company (BNSF). There is a trial going on in Fort Worth Texas. People believe their town has been destroyed by BNSF's negligent behavior. BNSF is being accused of burning railroad ties illegally releasing toxins into the air.

Did you know this happened?

Do you know tests show the levels of Dioxin in Somerville, Texas are some of the highest ever recorded in the USA?

We all know you are one of the wealthiest Americans, very philanthropic and very influential. Do you know how the people of Somerville have suffered?

Warren have you met Linda Faust?

She is a 40-year-old Somerville resident, who was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of stomach cancer, which doctors determined required the complete removal of her stomach. In just three weeks after being diagnosed, Linda's entire stomach was removed; her esophagus is now attached directly to her intestines. Her doctors did not believe Linda would live to see the New Year. But she has and her trial began Tuesday in Fort Worth Texas.

Warren have you met Dennis Davis?

He has pancreatic cancer. He worked for BNSF

How about Don Hightower who developed an aggressive skin cancer that devoured his face?

You could meet Makayla Antu who was born with severe birth defects.

You could also meet Robert Weiss of (New York), attorney for Linda Faust.

Will you speak with the hundreds of other Somerville residents living with cancer?

What will you do to protect the children who are going to school where the levels of Dioxin are considered lethal? What will these children do? Will you build them a new school?

What hope can you give the people of this toxic town?

What will these people do?

We are waiting for a response Mr. Buffett.

I plan to speak with attorney Robert Weiss next week to get more information on the case and find out what, if any, response they received for an article that will go up on Celsias (

Originally posted to leslieb310 on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:21 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for the people of Somerville (12+ / 0-)

    "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself" - Andy Warhol

    by leslieb310 on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:21:55 PM PST

  •  Perhaps I am being too cynical. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But wealth in America is a zero-sum game regardless of protestations to the contray by the wealthy.  People like Buffet did not get to their position by being ethically generous by responsibly mitigating damage done by companies they own to the quality of life of us peons and salarymen.

    I think people like Aaron Feurstein of Malden Mills are the exception and I don't think that Buffet has the ethics or backbone that Mr. Feurstein has.

  •  Reasonable first step (0+ / 0-)

    But the citizens of the town should make plans to occupy the corporate headquarters and deal with the criminals directly. We must hold these corporate criminals accountable for their actions, and as our court system is corrupt and broken it is time to adopt direct actions.

    My last sig was forced into retirement. The position is open.

    by MakeChessNotWar on Thu Jan 17, 2008 at 01:47:41 PM PST

  •  Go to the Media. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    docangel, peaceloveandkucinich

    Here's my advice. This is a potentially big story, so call the local news, call the syndicated talk shows, call Oprah, etc. Tell them about the sick people and birth defects. Show pictures if you have to. Particularly as people are increasingly turning against this kind of corporate malfeasance that leaves innocent people injured, you could get some attention to this -- attention which would likely lead to action or restitution, if it's indeed that bad.

    It's awful that this has happened, and I feel really bad for these people. It sounds a lot like the start of Erin Brockovitch, and rife for a class-action lawsuit.

    Keep us updated.

  •  Don't think Dioxin is the majority of their... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...problem.  You can find a bit more info here:

    Houston Press PDF

    Dioxin has been labeled a human carcinogen over the years, but the data has generally been pretty sketchy.  Some of the other compounds are probably causing the cancer.

  •  Wooden Railroad Ties (0+ / 0-)

    I still don't understand why we continue predominantly to use wooden railroad ties in this country.  Considering that there is a perfectly good alternatives in concrete ties, there is no need to stick creosote-soaked carcinogenic wood in the ground.

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