Ohio Attorney General sues Norfolk Southern, calls East Palestine derailment ‘avoidable’


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On Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a 58-count lawsuit in federal court in an effort to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine.

AG Yost called the derailment completely avoidable and said the state shouldn’t be financial responsible for their “negligence.”

“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” AG Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”

Norfolk Southern’s accident rate has been on the rise for the last decade, rising 80%. At least 20 Norfolk Southern train derailment since 2015 has involved chemical discharges.

Time and time again, Norfolk Southern has publicly stated they will make the situation right. Yost said this new lawsuit will make sure of that.

The suit cites the company for 58 violations of federal and state environmental laws and Ohio Common Law. 

According to AG Yost, the allegations of Norfolk Southern’s wrongdoing fall under:  

  • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
  • Ohio’s Hazardous Waste Law
  • Ohio’s Water Pollution Control Law
  • Ohio’s Solid Waste Law
  • Ohio’s Air Pollution Control Law
  • Common Law Negligence
  • Common Law Public Nuisance
  • Common Law Trespass

The complaint says releases from at least 39 rail cars have made their way into Sulfur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, the Ohio River and/or some still-unknown Ohio waterways. 

Yost hopes the lawsuit brings repayment of damages, civil penalties under state environmental laws, repayment of court costs, a declaratory judgement holding Norfolk Southern responsible and much.

Yost asks the court to require Norfolk Southern to conduct future monitoring of soil and groundwater at the derailment location, the surrounding areas and beyond – and to submit a closure plan to the Ohio EPA.

The lawsuit would also prohibit Norfolk Southern from disposing of additional waste at the derailment site and from polluting Ohio waters.