U.S. Reaches $310 Million Settlement with Norfolk Southern Over Toxic East Palestine Train Derailment

FILE - This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train th
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

The Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a more than $310 million settlement on Thursday with the Norfolk Southern Railway Company over the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in February 2023.

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced the settlement with Norfolk Southern in a news release.

The EPA said it held the company accountable for footing the bill for the damage incurred by the train derailment:

If the settlement is approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Norfolk Southern will be required to take measures to improve rail safety, pay for health monitoring and mental health services for the surrounding communities, fund long-term environmental monitoring, pay a $15 million civil penalty, and take other actions to protect nearby waterways and drinking water resources.

Together with other response costs and rail safety enhancements, Norfolk Southern estimates that it will spend more than $1 billion to address the contamination and other harms caused by the East Palestine derailment and improve rail safety and operations.

In April, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay $600 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement related to the derailment in East Palestine, according to Breitbart News.

“Norfolk Southern says it has already spent more than $1.1 billion on its response to the derailment, including more than $104 million in direct aid to East Palestine and its residents,” the outlet added.

One resident claimed his voice became high-pitched after the train derailment and toxic explosion, adding that doctors said he had chemicals in his body, according to Breitbart News.

Wade Lovett said, “My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse. My normal voice is low. It’s hard to breathe, especially at night. My chest hurts so much at night I feel like I’m drowning. I cough up phlegm a lot. I lost my job because the doctor won’t release me to go to work.”

The outlet noted that residents were angry over an apparent lack of assistance from local officials and President Joe Biden’s (D) administration.

It took Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg several weeks to visit the area, arriving one day after former President Donald Trump visited and brought truckloads of water and bought food for first responders.

Per the EPA press release, agency Administrator Michael S. Regan said:

No community should have to experience the trauma inflicted upon the residents of East Palestine. That’s why President Biden pledged from the beginning that his Administration would stand with the community every step of the way. Today’s enforcement action delivers on this commitment, ensures the cleanup is paid for by the company, and helps prevent another disaster like this from happening again.

“Because of this settlement, residents and first responders will have greater access to health services, trains will be safer and waterways will be cleaner,” Regan added.


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