Norfolk Southern Will Pay Residents To Relocate During Toxic Train Derailment Cleanup

(Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Norfolk Southern agreed to pay for residents affected by an eastern Ohio train derailment to temporarily relocate while cleanup efforts continue, the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) announced Sunday.

A Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals derailed on Feb. 3, leading to nearly 2,000 residents being temporarily evacuated before a controlled burn released the toxins into the air and water. The company agreed to provide financial aid for East Palestine residents to cover “temporary lodging, travel, food, clothing, and other necessities,” according to the EPA. (RELATED: Norfolk Southern Will Pay For East Palestine Students’ College Education)

“As soil work continues at Norfolk Southern’s derailment site, some residents close to the derailment site may notice additional odors,” the announcement reads. “At EPA’s request, Norfolk Southern has agreed to provide additional financial assistance to residents of the East Palestine area, including the portions of Pennsylvania within a mile of the derailment site.”

The order follows outburst from the community demanding that Norfolk Southern take responsibility for the derailment. River Valley Organizing, a community nonprofit, issued a list of five demands for the company and government officials, one of which included temporary relocation for residents who felt unsafe in the village.

Darrel Wilson, a Norfolk Southern representative, spoke with residents during a March 2 town hall during which he expressed the company’s apology for the fallout from the derailment. Tensions reportedly boiled as attendees shouted demands for the company to clean up the damage.

“Evacuate us!” one resident yelled.

Another demanded that the company remove their grandchildren from the village.

“If you care about us, get our grandkids out,” the resident yelled.

An EPA contractor walks past an aeration system and tree covered in ice on February 24, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

EAST PALESTINE, OH – FEBRUARY 24: An EPA contractor walks past an aeration system and tree covered in ice on February 24, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

“Norfolk Southern is making progress on remediation at the derailment site, including track removal and excavation of soil under the railroad tracks. As that work continues, some nearby residents may notice additional odors,” a Norfolk Southern spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We have deployed additional air monitors, which now number 11, to the perimeter of the work area to ensure continued monitoring of air quality between the work area and community. We will also continue to do mobile air monitoring, groundwater monitoring of wells near the site, soil sampling, and daily surface water sampling.”

As of Monday, 3.2 million gallons of contaminated water has been transported off site, 2,366 tons of waste soil was removed, 5,200 feet of waterways have been flushed and 186 private water wells have been tested, according to the company.

EPA ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct all cleanup efforts associated with the derailment on Feb. 21. The efforts included identifying and cleaning contaminated water and soil, reimburse the EPA for cleaning costs, pay for the EPA’s work and participate in public meetings, according to the press release.

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