U.S. orders Norfolk Southern to clean Ohio train site

STORY: Regan: “Just two weeks ago, tragedy struck this small town, this small, close-knit community.”

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday ordered rail operator Norfolk Southern to clean up contaminated soil and water at the site of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio…that was loaded with toxic chemicals.

The order, also requires Norfolk Southern to attend all public meetings with local residents and to submit a work plan for EPA approval for the clean up.

EPA administrator Michael Regan:

“...let me also be crystal clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess that they created and the trauma that they inflicted on this community and impacted Beaver County residents.”

The U.S. top federal environmental official on Tuesday visited the homes of locals impacted by the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment, and held a roundtable with community members.

Eastern Ohio Congressman Bill Johnson:

“The company knows this accountability is coming. They know that it's there. I haven't sensed any pushback. They know the kinds of things that they're going to have to do for the long-term remediation, the removal of the tracks, the removal of the soil, getting that contaminated soil out of there. They know that this has to be done.”

The wreck caused a fire that sent clouds of smoke over the town, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate while railroad crews drained and burned off chemicals.

Norfolk Southern said in an emailed statement that it recognizes its responsibility to "thoroughly and safely" clean up the derailment site and pay for it, adding: "We are going to learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve railroad safety."

Although no fatalities or injuries have been reported, residents have been demanding answers about health risks and blaming Norfolk Southern, state and federal officials for a lack of information regarding the crash.

President Joe Biden tweeted Tuesday the EPA's order to Norfolk Southern was "common sense" and that "this is their mess, they should clean it up."

Norfolk Southern shares were down Tuesday afternoon and have slid double digits since Feb. 3.