Ohio Attorney General files lawsuit against Norfolk-Southern for East Palestine train derailment

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:42 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 3:17 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday afternoon the state has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk-Southern for the Feb. 3 toxic train derailment in East Palestine.

Several days after the derailment, there was a controlled explosion of the five railroad cars carrying the chemical vinyl chloride.

The explosion caused a huge chemical plume and the chemicals were then directed into a ditch.

Overall, the lawsuit said the violations resulted in an untold volume of hazardous pollutants being released into the air, water and ground, posing substantial, long-term threats to human health and the environment.

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been on site monitoring the air quality and the Ohio EPA has been in charge of making sure the water is safe.

According to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, about 6.06 million gallons of liquid wastewater has been removed from East Palestine and there is currently a pile of about 26,800 tons of excavated soil waiting to be removed.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Agriculture said more than 2,750 animals have been inspected and none have been flagged for chemical exposure.

The company has repeatedly said that it will make the situation right, Yost noted, adding: “This lawsuit will make sure that Norfolk Southern keeps its word.”

Norfolk Southern put out the following statement, after the announcement of the lawsuit;

“Every day since the derailment, our goal has been to make it right for the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities. We are making progress every day cleaning the site safely and thoroughly, providing financial assistance to residents and businesses that have been affected, and investing to help East Palestine and the communities around it thrive. We are also listening closely to concerns from the community about whether there could be long-term impacts from the derailment. This week, we met with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to discuss three additional programs we plan to develop in conjunction with his office and other community leaders and stakeholders. Many residents are worried about what they will do if health impacts related to the derailment are discovered years from now. We appreciate Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s leadership and advocacy on this point. To date, environmental monitoring continues to show the air and drinking water are safe. To provide an additional level of assurance, we are committed to a solution that addresses long-term health risks through the creation of a long-term medical compensation fund. We also know residents are worried about their home values. While we are working with local leaders on investments to support the community’s long-term prosperity, we understand these concerns. We are committed to working with the community to provide tailored protection for home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment. Finally, we have heard the community’s interest in programs that protect drinking water over the long term. We are prepared to work with stakeholders toward that goal as well. 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.”