EPA orders Norfolk Southern to cover costs of Ohio train derailment cleanup News
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EPA orders Norfolk Southern to cover costs of Ohio train derailment cleanup

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tuesday announced that it has ordered Norfolk Southern to manage cleanup operations resulting from a February 3 train derailment in Ohio. The EPA issued the order under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which grants the EPA authority to require parties liable for pollution to participate in cleanup efforts.

The order instructs Norfolk Southern to find and clean up all contaminated soil and water sources, as well as participate in public meetings. The order also holds Norfolk Southern financially responsible for all costs associated with the cleanup, including reimbursements for EPA services provided to East Palestine, Ohio residents. If Norfolk Southern fails to comply with the order, the EPA says it will complete the cleanup and fine Norfolk Southern triple the cost. EPA Administrator Michael Regan declared that the corporation will “pay for cleaning up the mess they created and the trauma they’ve inflicted on [the] community.” 

On February 3, a freight train derailed on the Norfolk Southern Railway in East Palestine, Ohio. 38 train cars derailed, half containing toxic materials. The toxic materials on board included vinyl chloride, a combustible and colorless gas used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is used in common plastic products. To avoid a large explosion, the vinyl chloride was released in a controlled burn. Since the chemicals’ release, the EPA continues to actively monitor the levels of vinyl chloride and other harmful materials in the air, soil and surface water of the area surrounding East Palestine. To support ongoing remediation, the EPA is establishing a new command structure to coordinate state, local, and federal involvement.