US railroad company ordered to pay full cost of cleanup of toxic derailment in Ohio
The US government ordered the Norfolk Southern railroad company on Tuesday to pay the entire cost of the cleanup of a toxic train derailment in the midwestern state of Ohio.
“Let me be clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess they created and for the trauma they’ve inflicted on this community,” Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in a statement.
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The February 3 cargo train derailment in the town of East Palestine sparked a massive fire and triggered the release of toxic fumes, including from vinyl chloride, a colorless gas deemed carcinogenic by the US National Cancer Institute.
Several thousand residents were evacuated as authorities assessed the danger.
“The Norfolk Southern train derailment has upended the lives of East Palestine families, and EPA’s order will ensure the company is held accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of this community,” Regan said.
“To the people of East Palestine, EPA stands with you now and for as long as it may take,” he added.
The legally binding EPA order requires Norfolk Southern to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources and reimburse the EPA for cleaning services to be offered to residents and businesses.
The EPA said it will approve a workplan outlining all of the steps necessary to clean up the environmental damage caused by the derailment.
“If the company fails to complete any actions as ordered by EPA, the Agency will immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost,” the EPA said.
According to the authorities, tests have shown that the air is safe and no pollutants have been detected in the municipal water system.
Many residents remain concerned, however, and some have reported headaches and fears that they may develop cancer at a later date.
The Norfolk Southern train with 150 cars was shipping cargo from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, when it derailed.
The accident resulted in the derailment of 38 cars, 11 of which were carrying hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate and other chemicals, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
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