Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine derailment

Ohio sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine derailment

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost speaks in Columbus, Ohio on February 20, 2020.

Julie Carr Smith | AP

Ohio sues railroad company Norfolk in the south The Attorney General announced on Tuesday that a train laden with toxins derailed in eastern Palestine, Ohio, last month.

The 58-count lawsuit alleges multiple violations of state and federal laws relating to hazardous waste, water pollution, air pollution and common law negligence, Dave Yost, the state’s attorney general, said during a news conference. The state is seeking damages, civil penalties and a “declaratory judgment that Norfolk Southern is responsible,” he said.

“This derailment was completely avoidable,” Yost said, adding that Norfolk Southern has seen an 80% increase in accidents over the past decade. “The aftermath of this highly preventable accident will reverberate in Ohio and the people of Ohio for years to come.”

Yost seeks reimbursement of the state’s costs, including damage to natural resources, emergency response, and economic damage to the state and its residents. Yost said some businesses have lost significant revenue as people continue to avoid the area.

The state’s lawsuit calls for a minimum of $75,000 in damages “as a formality,” but notes that “damages will far exceed that minimum as the situation in eastern Palestine continues to develop.”

According to the complaint, filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the derailment is one of a “long line” of derailments and hazmat incidents in Norfolk Southern. Chemical discharges have been involved in at least 20 derailments in Norfolk Southern since 2015, the state claims.

Norfolk Southern officials were not immediately available for comment.

On February 3, a Norfolk-Southern freight train carrying 11 tank cars carrying hazardous materials derailed and subsequently derailed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, raising concerns about the environmental and health impacts on the surrounding community.

This photo taken with a drone shows the ongoing cleanup of portions of a Norfolk-Southern freight train that derailed Thursday, February 9, 2023 in eastern Palestine, Ohio.

Gene J Puskar | AP

Railway workers have reported feeling ill while cleaning up the derailment site. Yost said Tuesday he’s heard from people who have had sore throats and other irritations while visiting the site, noting that he felt “discomfort” himself at the site.

The complaint said substances from 39 railroad cars were released into soil, stormwater infrastructure and surface water, which eventually empties into the Ohio River.

Yost said “there are a lot of things we don’t know yet” regarding whether the chemical spill will have long-term effects on farmers and their livestock.

Yost has requested that future soil and groundwater monitoring be carried out at Norfolk Southern at the site of the derailment and in the surrounding areas, and that the company be prohibited from disposing of any further waste from the site.

“An important part of this lawsuit is to ensure that these long-term impacts are not only not forgotten, but addressed,” Yost said.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw told a Senate panel last week the company plans to completely clean up the site to “make it right,” adding that he “deeply regrets the impact this derailment will have.” to the people of East Palestine and environs had communities.”

Shaw also said Norfolk Southern will provide financial assistance to affected residents and first responders near the derailment site and will pledge more than $21 million in reimbursements and investments.

“It was an epic disaster and the cleanup will be expensive,” Yost said on Tuesday. “It will cost some significant dollars to bring the people of eastern Palestine back as close as possible to the position they were in before February 3.”