By JOHN SEEWER Associated Press
Ohio filed a lawsuit against railroad Norfolk Southern to make sure it pays for the cleanup and environmental damage caused by a fiery train derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border last month, the state’s attorney general said Tuesday.
The federal lawsuit also seeks to force the company to pay for groundwater and soil monitoring in the years to come and economic losses in the village of East Palestine and surrounding areas, said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
“The fallout from this highly preventable accident is going to reverberate throughout Ohio for many years to come,” Yost said.
No one was hurt in the Feb. 3 derailment, but half of the roughly 5,000 residents of East Palestine had to evacuate for days when responders intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the derailed cars to prevent an uncontrolled explosion, leaving residents with lingering health concerns. Government officials say tests over the past month haven’t found dangerous levels of chemicals in the air or water in the area.
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw apologized before Congress last week for the impact the derailment has had on East Palestine and the surrounding communities, but he didn’t make specific commitments to pay for long-term health and economic harm.
The railroad has promised more than $20 million so far to help the Ohio community recover while also announcing several voluntary safety upgrades. A message seeking comment on the lawsuit was left with Norfolk Southern.
Many in East Palestine remain outraged at the railroad and worried about what will become of the village.
Those fears include concerns about their long-term health, their house values and the economic future for local businesses.