Norfolk Southern Violated the Clear Water Act in East Palestine Catastrophe, DOJ Lawsuit Alleges

Norfolk Southern is going through extra fallout over the February 3 derailment of one its trains in East Palestine, Ohio. That disastrous derailment, wherein a number of tanker vehicles carrying hazardous chemical compounds overturned and spilled, compelled the evacuation of hundreds of residents of the Ohio city, killed tens of thousands of fish, and left locals concerned over long-term health impacts.

Now, the Division of Justice, on behalf of the Environmental Safety Company, has filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to the rail firm. The grievance claims that, by spilling the poisonous chemical compounds, Norfolk Southern violated the Clear Water Act. A portion of the vinyl chloride, a plastic precursor being carried by the prepare, and different hazardous supplies leaked right into a stream alongside the rail tracks. The managed burn of the chemical compounds launched extra poisonous compounds that additionally doubtlessly entered waterways.


Up to now, hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater have been faraway from the location of the derailment and as a part of the continued clean-up. A lot of that contaminated water has been hauled to hazardous waste storage websites in Ohio and elsewhere, per the Associated Press. Along with the water removing, federal and state environmental and well being officers have additionally been overseeing continued soil, air, and water testing.

For all of these efforts, the feds need the corporate accountable to pay up. The go well with seeks civil penalties and that Norfolk Southern cowl the price of clean-up, authorities response, and injury triggered by the accident.



The 1972 Clean Water Act protects waters of the Unites States from pollution. And though the exact meaning of “waters of the United States” has been a subject of a contentious forwards and backwards over the previous few many years, the federally protected standing of the Ohio River isn’t actually up for debate.

From the small stream adjoining to the prepare tracks, the brand new legislationgo well with alleges, toxins ensuing from the derailment flowed downstream by means of a sequence of ever-larger tributaries to the Ohio River, finally contaminating the big, navigable waterway.


Already, Norfolk Southern was going through a lawsuit from the state of Ohio demanding that the freight firm take monetary duty for native clean-up prices and injury. The federal grievance provides to the final word price Norfolk Southern could possibly be compelled to pay.

Norfolk Southern executives have repeatedly apologized for what occurred in East Palestine, however the troubles have been ongoing for the corporate’s trains. Between early February and early March, at the least 4 Norfolk Southern trains derailed. On March 9, simply hours earlier than a congressional listening to on the Ohio incident, another Norfolk Southern train derailed, this time in Alabama, highlighting simply how commonplace such incidents are.


Throughout that congressional listening to, the company’s CEO Alan Shaw reiterated to the assembled U.S. senators that he was “deeply sorry” for the injury wrought in East Palestine. He additionally mentioned he was “decided to make this proper.” Nevertheless, Shaw stopped far wanting agreeing to pay for neighborhood members’ subsequent medical prices, well being care, or native financial injury, in keeping with the New York Times.

The firm isn’t the one establishment going through criticism over the East Palestine catastrophe. The EPA itself has been underneath hearth for the way it responded to the derailment. Earlier this week, the company’s watchdog Workplace of Inspector Common launched an internal investigation into how the EPA has dealt with issues.


The East Palestine incident, which has captured nationwide consideration thanks partly to shocking images of the aftermath, may finally result in industry-wide modifications. On Thursday, six U.S. senators introduced legislation that might tighten security necessities for freight trains carrying hazardous supplies.


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