The US EPA has ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct all efforts necessary in the cleanup efforts in East Palestine following a train derailment in early February.
US EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says they are ordering the railway to do the following:
– All contamination in soil and water will be taken care of by Norfolk Southern and safely transported to an appropriate location.
– Norfolk Southern will reimburse the EPA for all testing services.
– Norfolk Southern will attend and participate in public meetings with the community.
Regan notes that this is Norfolk Southern’s mess and they will be held accountable for it.
“In no way shape or form, will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess they created,” Regan noted.
Regan added he understands the lack of trust the public has in the handling of the environment after toxic chemicals were released into the air.
“However long it takes, we’re going to work to earn your trust,” Regan said as many people have voiced their displeasure in the handling of the derailment.
Administrator Regan said residents can begin to see cleanup within the next 48 hours. At this time, over 500 homes with well systems have been tested with results coming back okay.
The train tracks will have to removed to dispose of the contaminated soil underneath the tracks from the initial crash and chemical release.
Norfolk Southern can be fined up to $70,000 a day during the cleanup process.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reassured the Government and other agencies will be in East Palestine and surrounding areas for the long term.
“We are making a public commitment to not leave the community,” DeWine said. “We will continue to test.”
Across state lines, Gov. Josh Shapiro said they’ll hold the corporate company accountable.
“We will hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts to our environment,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.
Gov. Shapiro took a strong stance against Norfolk Southern, calling the crash part of their corporate greed.
“We stand with the people of Ohio and Pennsylvania to fight against Norfolk Southern’s corporate greed and incompetence,” he said. “We will hold Norfolk Southern accountable.”
Congressman Bill Johnson knows residents want their questions answered.
“We are going to be here until your questions are all answered and you are convinced that you can return to normal life,” he said.
Will Norfolk Southern face any criminal charges as a result for the train derailment?
Gov. Shapiro said the PA EPA has made a criminal referral for their Attorney General to review for criminal charges.
As for long-term health impacts, who will cover the cost?
Governor DeWine says that will be Norfolk Southern’s job to pay.
East Palestine’s Trent Conaway serves as the town’s mayor, but also is a resident of East Palestine. Does he, as a resident, trust the information coming from the government and Norfolk Southern?
“They need to clean up the mess they made,” said East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway. “I do think it was an accident, but as far as what causes the accident. I don’t know what caused it.”