AAR's AVP of Environment, Hazardous Materials & Climate Change, Devin Sprinkle, with honorees Rick Verkler (left) and Mark Dudle (right).

At this week’s Railroad Environmental Conference, the industry recognized the longstanding work of two railroaders to advance environmental responsibility. The two honorees are Norfolk Southern’s (NS) Mark Dudle and Canadian National’s (CN) Rick Verkler.

“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,” said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. “Today, we honor two of the railroaders whose work helped their railroads protect employees, the communities they serve and the environment for generations to come.”

Norfolk Southern – Mark Dudle

For more than 30 years, Mark Dudle has dedicated himself to protecting the health and safety of his railroad’s 21,000 employees, contractors, and the communities Norfolk Southern serves across its 22-state system.

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 lead air monitoring, toxicology support and site safety efforts for Norfolk Southern following significant incidents including the ongoing East Palestine response. Dudle was key to the launch of Operation Home Safely following the Graniteville, SC accident to provide in-home air and surface testing to residents following evacuations for a rail emergency.

Canadian National – Rick Verkler

Rick Verkler served as Environmental Counsel for Canadian National’s U.S. operations. Verkler 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. Verkler was also active on the AAR’s Pre-emption Committee and Environmental Matters Working Group until his retirement.