Norfolk Southern is facing a lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice after one of its trains derailed in February and caused a hazardous chemical spill in a small Ohio town. The lawsuit claims that the company unlawfully polluted the nation’s waterways by causing the combustion of vinyl chloride during a controlled burn that was conducted to relieve pressure in the cars.
The DOJ is suing Norfolk Southern over its Ohio train derailment last month that spewed toxic materials.
In the lawsuit, federal prosecutors accuse the company of unlawfully polluting waterways with oil and hazardous substances from the derailed trains. https://t.co/7zrRSEsuql
— POLITICO (@politico) March 31, 2023
As a result of the incident, Norfolk Southern would be responsible for covering the complete cost of environmental cleanup and ensuring the safe transportation of toxic materials, according to the lawsuit. While federal prosecutors do not accuse the train company of negligence, they are hoping the court can issue injunctive relief and massive fines against it.
In February, the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern to take responsibility for the cost of cleanup.
In addition to the ongoing cleanup efforts in East Palestine, the company has pledged $27.8 million in community support, including landscaping, scholarships for students, and reimbursements to the local fire department. The company will also see to the establishment of a new training center for first responders.
According to a joint update sent to the Daily Caller on March 29, approximately 11,961 tons of contaminated soil and 9.2 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been shipped from the derailment site. It is clear that the cleanup efforts would take some time as EPA Administrator Michael Regan estimated it would take up to three months.
The three-month estimate is not exactly certain, as Regan made clear that the timeline could change.
Air monitoring is still ongoing in East Palestine, and the preliminary results indicate that levels of semi-volatile organic chemicals and dioxins are similar to typical background levels. No detections of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride have been identified.
In response to the incident, Norfolk Southern created a website called “Making it Right in East Palestine,” which outlines the company’s commitment to supporting the community. In addition to the financial pledge, the company is working to ensure the safe transportation of toxic materials in the future.
Despite the cleanup efforts, the incident has left a lasting impact on the town. Residents have voiced their concerns about the long-term effects of the spill on their health and the environment.