Updated Mar 31, 2023, 11:06am EDT
North America

US Justice Department sues train operator over East Palestine toxic train derailment

General view of the site of the derailment of a train carrying hazardous waste, in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Alan Freed/File Photo
REUTERS/Alan Freed/File Photo

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The News

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway Company over a toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year.

It is seeking damages on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency for alleged Clean Water Act violations for the pollutants said to have been discharged during the incident, CNN reported.

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Know More

The EPA announced earlier this week that it would conduct an investigation into the derailment. While the agency has avoided commenting on specifics, a memo issued by the office of the inspector general said it would be interviewing people, collecting soil samples, and analyzing a “variety of issues.”

The DOJ lawsuit states that Norfolk Southern “unlawfully [polluted] the nation’s waterways,” adding its goal is to “ensure it pays the full cost of the environmental cleanup.”

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Step Back

The February disaster made national news for the massive scale of toxic chemicals that reportedly spilled out of the train after its derailment. Many in East Palestine fled the area, describing a “chlorinated” smell and feeling like their eyes were burning.

Residents near the crash site also said they were receiving mixed messages on whether or not it was safe to be in the area.

The disaster led to bipartisan discussion in Washington, with Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance rallying support for better rail safety.


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