After a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct cleanup actions and cover all the costs associated with incident. The train accident, which was due to a overheat failure in a wheel bearing, according to initial findings from the National Transportation Safety Board, caused hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, to spill and contaminate the environment.
The legally binding contract between the EPA and the rail company requires Norfolk Southern to “identify and clean up contaminated soil and water, reimburse the EPA for cleaning services offered to local residents and businesses, attend and participate in public meetings and provide information online and pay for the EPA’s costs for work related to the order,” according to EcoWatch.
“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,” Michael Regan, EPA administrator, said.
The affected area of the train derailment is currently being cleaned up as 4,600 cubic yards of soil and over 1 million gallons of water were removed, NPR reported. The EPA’s response to the situation includes an action plan that includes air monitoring for VOCs, vinyl chloride, n-butyl acrylate and ethylhexyl acrylate and measuring for lower explosive limits, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride, phosgene and particulate matter.
The EPA’s order holds Norfolk Southern accountable to complete the work and if the company fails to do so, “the EPA will complete the work and require Norfolk Southern to pay triple the costs of the plan,” EcoWatch reported.
“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,” Regan said.