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Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over train derailment

#Ohio #sues #Norfolk #Southern #train #derailment

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway in federal court on Tuesday, alleging the company violated hazardous waste and water quality laws and was negligent in having caused the train derailment and release of toxic chemicals last month in eastern Palestine, Ohio.

The trial — which addresses alleged harm to the state, its economy and natural resources — adds to the railroad’s legal troubles following the train derailment and subsequent release of toxic chemicals, which the complaint says , included more than 1 million gallons of hazardous materials.

The lawsuit increases pressure on Norfolk Southern and could be a legal avenue to deal with the lasting impacts of chemicals dumped and burned in eastern Palestine. The lawsuit asks the court to require the company to pay for future environmental monitoring and reimburse the state for costs associated with its response and remediation, among other concerns.

Portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed on February 3, in eastern Palestine, Ohio, are still on fire on February 4, 2023.
Portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train are on fire the day after it derailed February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.Gene J. Puskar/AP File

“The fallout from this highly preventable accident will reverberate in Ohio and for the people of Ohio for many years to come,” Ohio Attorney General David Yost said at a press conference. . “The company has repeatedly said they want to do it right. Our lawsuit is designed to ensure they deliver on their promise.

In a statement sent to NBC News, Norfolk Southern said its goal “is to make things right for the people of eastern Palestine and their surrounding communities, saying it” is listening carefully to community concerns about whether there might be any long-term impacts from the derailment,” and noting that company officials recently met with Yost to discuss additional programs the railroad might choose to offer residents.

The statement said the company wants to develop programs to protect drinking water, create a long-term medical compensation fund and “provide tailored protection to home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment”.

“We look forward to working toward a final resolution with Attorney General Yost and others as we coordinate with his office, community leaders and other stakeholders to finalize the details of these programs,” the statement said.

A wave of lawsuits were submitted by individuals. Yost said this lawsuit will run alongside these complaints.

“Private suits represent individual people with individual damages. Our lawsuit seeks damages for the State of Ohio, its environment, its economy, as well as broader harms for the people,” Yost said. “They are different consequences of the same facts.”

Image: Olivia Holley, 22, and Taylor Gulish, 22, take water samples from Leslie Run Creek on February 25, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.  Holley and Gulish test the pH and total dissolved solids (TDS) of water.
People take water samples from Leslie Run Creek February 25 in East Palestine, Ohio, to test the pH and total dissolved solids in the water.File Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Yost said the state believes the derailment could have been avoided and is concerned about Norfolk’s broader safety record in recent years.

“This derailment was completely preventable. I worry that Norfolk and Southern are putting their own business profits above the health and safety of the cities and communities in which they operate,” Yost said.

Norfolk Southern did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.


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