Motsinger Earns AAR Environmental Excellence Award

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
2023 Environmental Excellence Award Winner, Adam Motzinger. (AAR Photograph)

2023 Environmental Excellence Award Winner, Adam Motzinger. (AAR Photograph)

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has recognized Norfolk Southern’s (NS) Adam Motsinger for environmental excellence in 2023.

Motsinger was among six nominees for the Environmental Excellence Award, the industry’s highest honor for environmental professionals, the association reported Nov. 21.

Motsinger has supported NS environmental operations since 2017 and currently serves as Manager Environmental Operations. According to the AAR, he is immediately responsible for overseeing and managing his assigned territory; ensuring local supervision understand and comply with the applicable environmental laws, regulations, permits, plans and best environmental management practices; and correcting deficient areas. Specifically, he oversees six wastewater treatment plants, provides 24/7 emergency response and management for facilities within his territory, and supports the hazardous materials team in the event of a derailment.

“By identifying deficiencies and proposing solutions, Motsinger has helped NS create opportunities to extend its sustainability track record and minimize potential impacts to the environment,” AAR said. “Among other things, Motsinger helped lead the NS Operation Clean Sweep program that helps capture microplastics at transfer terminals and divert them from landfills. Those captured pellets are then properly recycled or resold creating a win-win for the company and the environment.”

Additionally, Motsinger has “championed nutrient bank development opportunities at Lamberts Point Living Shoreline, which restored the river while also providing critical flooding protection to the railroad,” AAR reported. “This innovative solution stands to support NS’s long-term operational resiliency by stabilizing the marine perimeter at a critical terminal.” He has also worked closely with the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Foundation Oyster Gardening initiative, which AAR said has placed 30,000 live oysters on a reef adjacent to NS property. The association noted that larger oyster restoration efforts “stand to dramatically enhance the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay, and this project specifically has the capacity to yield more than 1 million gallons of water filtration each day once the oysters mature.”

The other five nominees for the 2023 Environmental Excellence Award are:

  1. Aaron Stadnyk, CN. As Director, Environment Field Operations and Emergency Response, Stadnyk has taken a “solutions-based approach” to environmental management at the Canadian Class I railroad, which has limited potential impacts and protected environmentally sensitive areas across the network, according to the AAR. He is a key member of CN’s Incident Management Working Group, focusing not only on the environmental response but also “on providing communities and government agencies with real-time information following an incident to establish trust with the railroad.” Stadnyk has also been central to CN’s work to reduce environmental impacts such as Direct to Locomotive fueling and helped to launch CN’s Operation Clean Sweep program as a part of an industry-led initiative to eliminate plastic resin loss in operation, reported AAR, which added that he is also working to naturalize a portion of his own property to reintroduce native species and promote local biodiversity.
  2. Chad Prior, BNSF Railway. Prior has been an advocate for sustainable engineering solutions at BNSF, where he had led the railroad’s critical pollution control processes as Director, Environmental Engineering and Wastewater Operations. “Prior has worked to create collaboration across the railroad’s operations teams and employees to drive sustainable solutions that create a lasting impact,” the AAR reported. “Harnessing technology, Prior has led critical programs to enhance visibility and resilience of wastewater treatment systems across the BNSF network.” He was also a key player in modernizing the railroad’s tank car inspection process, which AAR said now “deploys remotely operated robots inside cars to detect defects while also enhancing safety for railcar inspectors.”
  3. Kiley Gibson, Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC). “Following the 2013 tragic Lac Megantic derailment, Canadian authorities committed to moving rail operations outside the heart of the city,” according to the AAR. “After Canadian Pacific [which merged earlier this year with Kansas City Southern to form CPKC] purchased the local short line, CPKC has been managing that project with Gibson helping lead the initiative. Informed by robust community engagement and expert analysis, Gibson has worked to address local concerns and implement effective strategies to protect groundwater, wetlands and wildlife near the project site. Gibson has also led the development of the construction management plans and monitoring program, which will be implemented over the coming years.”
  4. Daniel Dyer, CSX Transportation (CSX). As Senior Manager, Environmental Remediation, Dyer brings together stakeholders “to successfully resolve complex, legacy remediation projects and further CSX’s commitment to environmental responsibility,” according to the AAR. Notable among these was his tireless work to close a more than century-old creosote tie-treating site in Indiana, which ended operations in 1976. Dyer has also led the final remediation steps on two other projects that have been active for more than 30 years. He manages all permitting and abatement projects across CSX’s Northwest Territory, where he works to create business solutions that also protect the environment and employees.
  5. Chip Heard, Union Pacific (UP). Heard helps advance UP’s hazmat response, spill prevention and recovery efforts as Senior Manager, Hazardous Materials Management. Before joining the railroad, he was a firefighter/paramedic for 28 years and now serves as UP’s first responder for a four-state territory. Heard holds dozens of regional training exercises annually to ensure local responders can safely manage a rail emergency and mitigate environmental impacts as best as possible, according to the AAR. Heard also leads the hazardous material transfer program and successfully managed multiple incidents with high-risk commodities for the railroad, the association said. “Whether it is jumping into action to support a nearby Arkansas town following a tornado or raising two sons who also answered the call to become first responders, Heard’s dedication to protecting and serving goes far beyond his work duties,” AAR reported.

In related news, AAR earlier this month recognized CN’s Rick Verkler and NS’s Mark Dudle with Career Environmental Achievement Awards at the Railroad Environmental Conference.

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