The state of Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern Railway over a derailment last month that caused a toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio, the state attorney general announced Tuesday, promising to ensure the company addresses the derailment’s possible economic and long-term health impacts on residents.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday, accusing Norfolk Southern of violating federal environmental policies, Ohio’s hazardous waste law, Ohio’s water pollution control law, Ohio’s solid waste law and Ohio’s air pollution control law.
Ohio is seeking a “declarative judgment” that Norfolk Southern is responsible for the incident, as well as recovery of costs and damages that are a result of the February 3 accident, Yost said in a press conference Tuesday.
In the complaint, the state claimed Norfolk Southern’s accident rate has jumped 80% over the past ten years, with at least 20 Norfolk Southern derailments since 2015 involving chemical spills and several involving wheel bearing issues like the one identified in the East Palestine derailment.
Norfolk Southern could not immediately be reached for comment.
This is a developing story and Forbes will continue to update it.
“This derailment was entirely avoidable, and I’m concerned that [Norfolk Southern] is maybe putting profits for their own company above the health and safety of the cities and communities that they operate in,” Yost said.
Last month, a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic material including vinyl chloride derailed in East Palestine, a town near the border of Pennsylvania. The derailment left residents of East Palestine and nearby towns concerned for the safety of their air and water, as it reportedly caused the release of over one million gallons of hazardous chemicals. It also led to a multi-day evacuation of aout 5,000 residents. Government officials say the town’s air and water are safe, but some residents have reported health issues and have raised concerns about their long-term safety. Yost said he met with Norfolk Southern officials Monday to discuss possible compensation to help residents with “delayed” health effects from the derailment, as well as the loss of real estate value.
Norfolk Southern Conductor KIlled In Third Ohio Incident This Year—Weeks After Massive Chemical Spill (Forbes)
Norfolk Southern CEO Says Safety Standards ‘Were Not Enough’ As Senate Grills Him On Ohio Derailment (Forbes)