The Association of American Railroads (AAR) recognized CN’s Rick Verkler and Norfolk Southern’s (NS) Mark Dudle with Career Environmental Achievement Awards at the Railroad Environmental Conference, held Nov. 14-15 in Illinois.
The 25th-annual conference was presented by the University of Illinois Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC), with partners AAR; American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association; American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association; American Railway Development Association; and Railway Association of Canada.
“Railroading has long been one of the safest, most environmentally responsible ways to move freight, and the industry is committed to extending that legacy even further,” AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies said. Verkler and Dudle, who have advanced environmental responsibility, were honored for their work that has “helped their railroads protect employees, the communities they serve and the environment for generations to come,” he noted.
According to AAR, Verkler served as Environmental Counsel for CN’s U.S. operations, where he managed and oversaw all aspects of state and federal environmental law, including air and water pollution, hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal, site cleanup, and wetlands protection. “From managing the Illinois Central (IC) environmental vision and strategy to interfacing with state and federal environmental authorities regarding site cleanups, Verkler was key to helping the railroad successfully resolve issues and remain compliant,” the association reported. Verkler was also active on the AAR’s Pre-emption Committee and Environmental Matters Working Group until his retirement.
NS’s Dudle has “dedicated himself to protecting the health and safety” of his railroad’s 21,000 employees, contractors, and the communities served across its 22-state system, according to the association. As the Occupational Safety Director, he manages the railroad’s safety and health programs to ensure employees have the proper information and protective equipment to keep themselves, those responding to an emergency and the environment safe. “Dudle stands among the industry’s top emergency response experts who has led air monitoring, toxicology support and site safety efforts for Norfolk Southern following significant incidents including the ongoing East Palestine response,” reported the AAR, which noted that he was “key to the launch of Operation Home Safely following the Graniteville, S.C., accident to provide in-home air and surface testing to residents following evacuations for a rail emergency.”