Just Dept. sues Zugbrand of Norfolk Southern Railroad East Palestine
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a statement Friday that the actions together are intended to “hold Norfolk Southern fully accountable for endangering the health and safety of the community.”
He added: “No community should have to go through what the residents of eastern Palestinians have experienced.”
The fire caused by the derailment lasted for days, driving plumes of smoke across the area. A few days after the crash, Norfolk Southern workers vented and burned five train cars containing vinyl chloride — a dangerous chemical used to make plastic pipes — to prevent an explosion that could have spread the debris over an even larger radius.
It could be months or even years before health authorities know if the symptoms suffered by residents of eastern Palestine after the release — such as itchy eyes and throat, rashes, vomiting and headaches — will cause long-term health problems directly related to the derailment .
Medical advice is currently limited, and trust in the company and the federal government is low. GPs in the area, who have been booked for weeks, say they are unable to diagnose chemical poisoning without more toxicology data; They simply treat symptoms with ibuprofen and ointment.
The Justice Department has not specified the total amount needed to compensate government agencies for their response and clean-up efforts. The proposed penalties total approximately $120,000 for each day the company violates the Clean Water Act.
The department’s complaint provides a sobering geographic overview of the wide-ranging environmental damage that the derailment of a single freight train can inflict on an area’s rivers, streams, stormwater systems and irrigation ditches.
The affected waterways begin with a small ditch north of the railway that is a tributary of a small stream called Sulfur Run. That connects to Leslie Run, Bull Creek, the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and finally the Ohio River, the third largest in the country.