On Tuesday, Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued Norfolk Southern over the Feb. 3 train derailment that caused a toxic chemical spill.
The Ohio AG filed a 106-page lawsuit to hold Norfolk Southern liable for all financial damages associated with the train derailment. This would primarily involve hazardous chemical pollution of air and water. The lawsuit lists 58 federal and state environmental law violations that Norfolk Southern allegedly violated, including state hazardous waste control, water pollution control, solid waste and land pollution control laws. air
“Norfolk Southern should have, but did not, take adequate steps to prevent the derailment and the resulting damage to the state, and at a minimum Norfolk Southern should have been prepared to adequately respond to the derailment and mitigate the damage immediately after the derailment”. argues the lawsuit.
The attorney general also accuses Norfolk Southern of common law violations, including public nuisance for chemicals released into the environment, negligence for operational defects and trespass to pollute natural resources. Yost is proverbially “throwing the book” at Norfolk Southern.
“Ohio should not have to bear the enormous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s gross negligence,” Yost added in a news release. “The consequences of this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there is still much we do not know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”
The State seeks civil penalties, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as “for declaratory and injunctive relief, to remedy the defendants’ violations of the law.” The Ohio AG is seeking a minimum of $75,000 in federal damages, although Yost acknowledged in the press release that “damages will far exceed this minimum as the situation in East Palestine continues to develop.”
“The derailment has caused substantial harm to the regional economy of the state of Ohio, its citizens and its businesses,” the lawsuit says. “Citizens in the region have been displaced, their lives have been disrupted and their businesses have been closed.”
Norfolk Southern pledged to “do right by the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities” in a statement sent to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We are making progress every day by safely and thoroughly cleaning up the site, providing financial assistance to affected residents and businesses, and investing to help East Palestine and the surrounding communities thrive,” the statement said.
This would involve creating a “long-term medical compensation fund” and “offering tailored protection to home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment,” according to the statement.
The lawsuit also calls for Norfolk Southern to continuously monitor the soil and groundwater near the site of the train derailment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to monitor air and water quality, according to its website. Residents and workers have reported ailments such as migraines, nausea and loss of smell after the train derailment.
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