Train Company That Caused Massive Chemical Leak Slapped With Worker Safety Fines

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Will Kessler Contributor
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Norfolk Southern Corp. announced a settlement with the Department of Labor Wednesday that included a fine and required new training following the cleanup of a massive hazardous chemical spill, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

A Norfolk Southern train derailed on Feb. 2 in East Palestine, Ohio, causing a 49-railcar pileup that included 11 rail cars carrying hazardous chemicals, according to a press release from OSHA. In a deal with the Department of Labor and the Teamsters’ railway union, Norfolk Southern agreed to implement a medical surveillance program for employees at the site, create a training program on lessons learned from the derailment, give union employees 40 hours of hazardous waste training and pay $49,111 in penalties. (RELATED: Train Derailment In Ohio Sparks Massive Fire, Evacuations)

“This agreement will improve the safety and health controls in place for Norfolk Southern employees who responded and help educate the rail operator’s employees on the lessons learned so they are prepared should another emergency occur,” Howard Eberts, OSHA area office director in Cleveland, said in the press release. “We are pleased by the collaborative safety and health efforts of Norfolk Southern Corp, Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division and contractors from the clean-up site who have been working together on this site remediation.”

The almost $50,000 worth of fines stem from four violations by Norfolk Southern, according to the press release. The violations were failing to develop an emergency response plan with proper communication and site control, failing to require chemical-resistant footwear for workers walking on contaminated soil, not requiring workers to wear respiratory protection to pour cement on contaminated soil and not training workers about hazardous chemicals.

Congress has so far failed to agree on legislation to address the train derailment, with a bipartisan coalition including Ohio senators Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Sherrod Brown proposing the Railway Safety Act of 2023. Under the bill, new restrictions would be put in place requiring emergency response plans and that emergency response officials be notified of hazardous materials passing through their jurisdiction.

The Department of Labor deferred to the press release, and Norfolk Southern did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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