Ohio Sues Norfolk Southern Over Toxic Train Derailment

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Norfolk Southern on Tuesday over a train derailment that set off a massive chemical disaster that has residents concerned about the well-being of their community.

The 106-page lawsuit intends to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for covering all financial costs associated with the Feb. 3 derailment that resulted in hazardous chemicals polluting the air and water, according to the text. The lawsuit cites 58 counts against Norfolk Southern for violating several federal and state environmental laws including state hazardous waste, water pollution control, solid waste and air pollution control laws. (RELATED: Yet Another Norfolk Southern Train Derails As CEO Testifies Before Congress On East Palestine)

Yost accused Norfolk Southern of several Common Law violations including public nuisance for the chemicals released into the environment, negligence for the operational defects and trespassing for contaminating natural resources.

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said in the press release. “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.”

Ohio EPA and EPA contractors collect soil and air samples from the derailment site on March 9, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

EAST PALESTINE, OH – MARCH 09: Ohio EPA and EPA contractors collect soil and air samples from the derailment site on March 9, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

The state seeks civil penalties, compensatory and punitive damages and “for declaratory and injunctive relief, to remedy Defendants’ violations of law,” the lawsuit reads. It requests a minimum of $75,000 in federal damages, although Yost acknowledged in the press release that  “the damages will far exceed that minimum as the situation in East Palestine continues to unfold.”

“The derailment has caused substantial damage to the regional economy of the state of Ohio, its citizens and its businesses,” the lawsuit reads. “The citizens of the region have been displaced, their lives interrupted and their businesses shuttered.”

Norfolk Southern promised to “make it right for the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities” in a statement sent to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“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,” the statement read.

The efforts include creating a “long-term medical compensation fund” and “to provide tailored protection for home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment,” according to the statement.

The lawsuit also requests Norfolk Southern conduct soil and groundwater monitoring at and near the derailment site and be prohibited from dumping toxic waste in Ohio waterways or at the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was on the scene hours after the derailment and has continued to monitor the air and water quality, according to its website. Residents and workers have reported sicknesses including migraines and nausea since the crash.

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