EPA Orders Norfolk Southern To Pay for East Palestine Cleanup

EPA east palestine ohio - Credit: DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP/Getty Images
EPA east palestine ohio - Credit: DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Norfolk Southern to pay for the cleanup of a massive toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month. The EPA further told Norfolk Southern that should it fail to comply with the order it will be held liable for three times the cost of the cleanup.

“Let me be clear,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan to reporters, “Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess they created and for the trauma they’ve inflicted on this community.”

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Regan charged Norfolk Southern with the cleanup, disposal of hazardous materials, and rehabilitation of areas affected by the Feb. 3 derailment, which released high levels of toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride into the atmosphere. The company will also be required to provide financial restitution to residents and attend and participate in public meetings.

Regan and the EPA assured residents of East Palestine that the air and water in the area pose no health concerns. Despite the reassurances, inhabitants of the area have reported adverse health effects including persistent nose bleeds, rashes, headaches, as well as spontaneous deaths of pets, wildlife, and livestock. Residents were ordered to evacuate the area following the derailment, and were allowed to return to their homes on Feb. 8. Officials have provided testing services for the water, air, and soil of area residents.

Norfolk Southern has offered $1,000 in compensation to any resident living in East Palestine.

Despite its compensation offer the company is already facing a barrage of class-action lawsuits not only from those in the community, but from areas outside of Ohio thought to be affected by the chemical spill.

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