Ohio train derailment: State sues railroad
A drone image shows the train that derailed in February in the community of East Palestine, Ohio.
The US state of Ohio on Tuesday began civil lawsuits against the Norfolk Southern railroad after the derailment in early February of one of its trains. The latter contained chemicals, which has since raised fears of serious environmental consequences.
Ohio should not have to bear the incredible financial burden [resulting] from Norfolk Southern's gross negligence, Dave Yost, the northern state's attorney general, said in a statement.
The complaint seeks to hold Norfolk Southern financially responsible for the derailment which took place in East Palestine on February 3 and which irresponsibly endangered the health of the inhabitants of the area and Ohio's natural resources, the statement said.
Norfolk Southern is charged in the complaint with 58 violations of various environmental laws, federal and Ohio, including defects in the train and the manner in which it was operated, but also for chemical releases to air, river systems and community-owned land.
This derailment had caused a huge fire and some 2000 evacuations. Among other things, the train was carrying vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic and highly flammable chemical used in the manufacture of plastic.
The railway authorities then carried out controlled releases of this vinyl chloride. vinyl to avoid a possible explosion, which had released toxic fumes.
Some residents have since reported experiencing various symptoms, including headaches and rashes skin, and said they feared they would end up with cancer in a few years.
Authorities last week announced a special investigation into Norfolk Southern's safety culture and practices after several accidents.
Norfolk Southern will clean up the site in a safe, thorough manner and urgent, its CEO promised Thursday before a Senate committee. He recalled that the company had committed to disburse several million dollars for the region.
Referring to this promise, the Attorney General of Ohio has said in its Tuesday statement: Complaint will ensure Norfolk Southern keeps its word.
Dave Yost is asking that the company be required to pay damages, including for lost tax revenue caused by the derailment, and that it reimburse current expenses and Futures of Ohio to prevent future harm to the environment and public health and to restore natural resources.