Norfolk Southern reaches $310 million settlement with EPA, DOJ over East Palestine derailment

Norfolk Southern will pay a $15 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.

Published: May 23, 2024 1:29pm

Norfolk Southern reached a $310 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice on Thursday over a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last year.

The settlement, which has yet to be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, requires Norfolk Southern to spend an estimated $235 million for clean-up, $30 million for water quality monitoring, $25 million for a 20-year community health program, and $6 million to prioritize addressing historical pollution through a “waterways remediation plan,” reported the Washington Examiner.

Norfolk Southern will pay a $15 million civil penalty for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act, according to the agreement. A DOJ official said that Norfolk Southern will not be expressing liability, but added the settlement is a “very positive step that holds Norfolk Southern accountable for the derailment.”

In February 2023, 38 of the Norfolk Southern train's roughly 158 freight cars went off the tracks, including some holding such toxic chemicals. The train smoldered for days and leaked chemicals until at least some were siphoned off and burned to prevent an explosion. Nearly half of East Palestine's residents were displaced as a result.

Norfolk Southern also estimates that it will pay more than $1 billion to address the harms and contamination resulting from the derailment, including implementing measures to improve rail safety.

The settlement came after the federal government filed a complaint against Norfolk Southern in March 2023 for the train derailment's release of pollutants and hazardous substances.

In a separate case on Tuesday, a federal judge approved a $600 million class action settlement over the train derailment, the Associated Press reported.

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