Legal Battle Looms as Ohio Sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine Derailment
According to the state’s attorney general, Ohio has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over the derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine last month.
According to Dave Yost, the state’s attorney general, during a press conference, the 58-count lawsuit charges several violations of state and federal law relating to hazardous waste, water pollution, air pollution, and ordinary law negligence, among other things.
The state is requesting monetary compensation, civil fines, and a “declaratory judgment that Norfolk Southern is at fault,” he said.
According to Yost, Norfolk Southern incidents have increased 80% in the last ten years. “This disaster was avoidable,” he added. “Ohio and Ohioans will be affected by the aftermath of this largely preventable disaster for many years.”
Yost is requesting compensation for the state’s expenses related to emergency response, natural resource destruction, and economic impairment to the state and its citizens. Since visitors continued to shun the neighborhood, Yost claimed that several businesses had suffered significant income losses.
In its complaint, the state requests a minimum of $75,000 in federal damages but adds that as the situation in East Palestine worsens, “the damages will significantly exceed that minimum.”
The disaster is one of a “long-run” of hazmat and derailments involving Norfolk Southern that have occurred, according to the lawsuit submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. According to the state, at least 20 derailments involving Norfolk Southern entailed chemical discharge since 2015.
In a statement on Tuesday, the firm said that Norfolk Southern executives met with Yost this week to discuss the assistance initiatives the company will implement in collaboration with Yost’s office and other community members.
While we communicate with his office, local authorities, and other stakeholders to determine the specifics of these initiatives, we look forward to working toward a final resolution with Attorney General Yost and others, the business added.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous goods in 11 tank cars derailed and caught fire near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. This raised worries about potential environmental and health effects for the neighborhood.
While cleaning up the disaster scene, rail personnel said they were unwell. Yost remarked on Tuesday that he had felt “discomfort” when on location and heard from folks who had sore throats and other irritants while visiting the site.
According to the complaint, 39 train carriages spilled chemicals into the soil, stormwater systems, and surface waterways that finally emptied into the Ohio River.
The state of Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern, calling last month's toxic train derailment in East Palestine "entirely avoidable." https://t.co/Mdq4YrNkM2
— ABC News (@ABC) March 15, 2023
Yost said, “there’s lots of stuff that we don’t know now” regarding whether the chemical spill will have long-term repercussions for farmers and their cattle. He also emphasized homeowners’ worries that their homes would depreciate because buyers would hesitate to acquire them.
The long-term health hazards would be addressed by establishing a long-term medical compensation fund, Norfolk Southern stated on Tuesday. The business added that it is working to offer sellers of homes specialized protection if their property loses value.
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Yost has requested that Norfolk Southern monitor the soil and groundwater in the area around the derailment site in the future and that the firm disposes of no more waste from the site.
According to Yost, ensuring that such long-term repercussions are not just not forgotten but also taken into account is a crucial goal of this action.
Last week, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw testified before a Senate committee that the company intended to clean the site to “make it right completely.” He also expressed his “deep regret” for this derailment’s effects on the residents of East Palestine and the nearby communities.
Shaw added that Norfolk Southern has committed to investing and repaying more than $21 million to help affected locals and first responders close to the incident site.
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