EPA to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for train derailment cleanup

The Environmental Protection Agency is ordering Norfolk Southern to conduct all necessary actions associated with train derailment cleanup in East Palestine, Ohio.

During a news conference today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess it created, and the trauma inflicted on the community.

“Using EPA’s legal authorities, I’m ordering Norfolk Southern to do the following: Norfolk Southern will clean up all contamination in soil and water and safely transport that contamination to the appropriate locations to ensure residents are not impacted further. From the debris and the chemicals you see in the waterways from the soil in and around the crash site, this work will be done to EPA specifications,” he says.

EPA is also ordering the company to reimburse EPA for cleaning services to be offered to residents and businesses to provide an additional layer of reassurance; attend and participate in public meetings at EPA’s request and post information online; and pay for the agency’s costs for work performed under this order.

The EPA will review and approve Norfolk Southern’s work plan with state and local government input.

Regan says Norfolk Southern will be held accountable.

“If the company fails to complete any action ordered by EPA the agency will immediately step in, conduct the work ourselves, and then charge Norfolk Southern to pay triple in cost in accordance to the powers granted by my agency,” he says. “In no way shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created. This order represents one of EPA’s strongest authorities to hold a company accountable for jeopardizing a communities’ health and safety.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine continues to call for Congress to consider rail safety.

“There’s something fundamentally wrong when a train like this can come into a state and the current law does not require them, despite what they were hauling, to notify the state or local officials. That simply has to be changed,” he says. “The fact that this train did not qualify under current law requiring the railroad company to make that notification is absurd.”

EPA says its order marks the transition of the multi-agency response from its “emergency phase” to a longer-term remediation phase.

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