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EPA orders Norfolk Southern to deal with Ohio toxic train derailment cleanup - or pay triple in fines

The cleanup of portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed February 3, in East Palestine, Ohio (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
The cleanup of portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed February 3, in East Palestine, Ohio (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put rail operator, Norfolk Southern, on the hook for the cleanup of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

According to a statement issued on Tuesday by the EPA, the legally binding order means that Norfolk Southern will be required to identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources.

The company also must reimburse the EPA for cleaning services offered to residents and businesses, conducted by the agency’s staff and contractors.

Norfolk Southern is ordered to attend and participate in public meetings at EPA’s request and post information online.

A workplan for the environmental damage cleanup must be approved by the EPA, according to the memo.

“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,” it added.

The Independent has emailed Norfolk Southern seeking comment. The company announced additional resources for the East Palestine community on Monday.

EPA administrator Michael S. Regan returned to East Palestine on Tuesday and was set to hold a press conference at 12.30pm.

“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,” Mr Regan said, in a statement.

“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.”

This breaking news article is being updated