Ohio AG Dave Yost sues Norfolk Southern over toxic train derailment

Ohio AG Dave Yost sues Norfolk Southern over toxic train derailment

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a suit against Norfolk Southern claiming last month’s derailment in East Palestine was “entirely avoidable” and a result of the company’s greed, new court papers allege.

“The derailment was entirely avoidable and the direct result of Norfolk Southern’s practice of putting its own profits above the health, safety and welfare of the communities in which Norfolk Southern operates,” the federal suit filed Tuesday alleges.

While no one was harmed in the Feb. 3 accident, Yost said that Ohioans and the state’s natural resources were “recklessly” endangered after gallons of toxic chemicals were released into the air and 1.1 million gallons of water and 15,000 pounds of soil were contaminated.

The environmental fallout prompted mass evacuations of the small community along the Pennsylvania border.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw has apologized for the disaster and said, “I am determined to make this right.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has sued Norfolk Southern for the “entirely avoidable” train derailment in East Palestine last month.

Toxic fumes in the air.
The Feb. 3 accident resulted in toxic fumes being released into the air and water and soil pollution.

Yost says the suit “will make sure that Norfolk Southern keeps its word.”

Norfolk Southern has seen an 80% accident rate over the past decade with 20 derailments since 2015 resulting in chemical discharges, the AG alleges.

The sprawling 58-count lawsuit claims the company was negligent in allowing defective trains and train operations to contaminate the state’s natural resources and threaten human and environmental health.

A view of the scene Feb. 24, 2023, as the cleanup continues at the site of of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that happened on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said Monday, March 6, 2023 that Norfolk Southern has pledged several million dollars to cover the cost of the response and recovery in Pennsylvania after last month's derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals just across the border in Ohio. (AP Photo/Matt Freed, file)
Cleanup continues in East Palestine on Feb. 24, three weeks after the hazardous derailment.

And the local economy, residents and businesses have suffered financially because of last month’s crash, the suit claims.

“The citizens of the region have been displaced, their lives interrupted and their businesses shuttered,” the court papers charge.

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said in a statement. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages for lost taxes, economic losses, and civil penalties.

Scenes from the derailment.
Norfolk Southern has seen an 80% accident rate over the past decade with 20 derailments since 2015 resulting in chemical discharges, the Ohio AG alleges.

Derailment wreckage.
The company has said it will make things right in the community.

The AG also wants a judge to require the company to conduct future soil and groundwater monitoring for the crash location and then submit a closure plan to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

“Every day since the derailment, our goal has been to make it right for the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities,” Norfolk Southern said in a statement Tuesday. “We are making progress every day cleaning the site safely and thoroughly, providing financial assistance to residents and businesses that have been affected, and investing to help East Palestine and the communities around it thrive.”

Norfolk Southern also said it plans to set up a medical compensation fund for any long-term health issues that locals may experience.

The company added that it is working on investments to help homeowners fight potential property depreciation and is working to protect drinking water in the long term.

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