Nearly a decade ago, NS Thoroughbred Volunteers, the company’s formal volunteer program, joined a community project to restore the Elizabeth River. The plan: to repopulate the river with oysters, a marine bivalve known for their ability to filter pollutants from water.
Since then, Bobby Carlow, general foreman of the rail car shop at Lamberts Point, has been chief caretaker of young mollusks that NS purchases and raises at the waterfront near Pier 6. Carlow served on the volunteer council when NS joined the oyster-growing program, which is supported by the Elizabeth River Project, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center.
Every year, NS takes delivery of several hundred oyster “spat,” each the size of a pencil eraser. Carlow and other NS helpers place them into cages at the river’s edge a short walk from Pier 6, where colliers are loaded with export coal. When the oysters reach the size of silver dollars, they are transplanted onto artificial reefs elsewhere in the river, where each oyster filters pollutants from more than 40 gallons of water daily.
“I like the idea that Norfolk Southern is participating in an active way,” Carlow said. “This is a good place for us to show our commitment to provide a cleaner river environment for the region and for future generations.”