Ravenna residents frustrated that Norfolk Southern still hasn’t cleaned up derailment site

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 10:33 PM EST
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RAVENNA, Ohio (WOIO) - As the people in East Palestine continue to push for answers and accountability, 52 miles away people in Portage County are still reeling from a train derailment nearly four months ago.

A Norfolk Southern train, the same company responsible for the derailment in East Palestine, derailed in Ravenna on Nov. 1.

There are still two train cars at the derailment site in Ravenna and a lot more debris.

“I can’t sleep now and it’s coming on stronger and stronger for me,” said Chuck Knight who witnessed the derailment and was lucky to survive it. “I’m gonna have to move. There’s no way I can live here, not under these conditions. I just can’t.”

Chuck Knight lives right behind the train tracks off State Route 44 and South Prospect Street in Ravenna Township.

He was outside watching the fireworks at Kent State when suddenly everything changed.

He watched in disbelief as a 16-car train jumped the tracks.

“I hear a kabang,” Knight recalled. “I was standing here looking and the next thing I know I see this great big yellow object and it was the yellow marker on top of a car hauler coming through the air and it landed right on my boat while I was standing right there.”

Knight’s boat was blown to pieces.

Norfolk Southern said the cars were transporting rock salts and other materials and said the derailment didn’t involve any hazardous materials, but the train crashed into Knight’s septic tank.

“Now it’s dumping out, that’s septic water, that’s nasty water,” Knight said.

Knight has to put in a new septic tank and just got a $20,000 estimate.

He tried to call Norfolk Southern to tell them, but said they haven’t called him back.

Knight said since the disaster in East Palestine his anxiety has only gotten worse.

“Now we’ve got derailments every two to three days,” Knight said. “I mean all over this country they’re derailing.”

Another Norfolk Southern train derailed in North Carolina Saturday.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation across the country, there was a total of 1,143 derailments in 2022.

Out of those, 114 of those involved Norfolk Southern trains.

There were 43 in Ohio, 12 being Norfolk Southern trains.

Knight is frustrated that the railroad still hasn’t cleaned up this mess, but said the worst part of the whole ordeal is he’s lost his peace of mind.

“I can’t stay here,” Knight said. “This has got me on pins and needles I mean my voice is quivering now and I’m not gun shy because of the camera or nothing I’m talking about it and I’m a nervous wreck. I really am.”

19 News tried to reach out to Norfolk Southern about this derailment and to get some answers on when they’re going to clean this mess up and help these people, but so far, they haven’t called us back.