Norfolk Southern Pledges Millions After Crash


Norfolk Southern train | Image by Andy Borysowski

Norfolk Southern has committed several million dollars to Pennsylvania following a train derailment in neighboring Ohio last month.

According to AP News, Governor Josh Shapiro (D-PA) announced that the train operator’s president and CEO Alan Shaw pledged to cover the costs incurred in Pennsylvania during its response and clean-up efforts after the accident in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3.

As previously covered by The Dallas Express, the train derailment involving 38 rail cars, 11 of which were carrying toxic chemicals, has resulted in reports of dead wildlife and illness among residents living miles from the site.

Half of East Palestine and surrounding areas near the Pennsylvania border were evacuated as state and local officials released and burned toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars.

Shapiro said that Norfolk Southern has promised $5 million to replace the equipment damaged or contaminated as local fire departments attempted to put out the fire caused by the derailment, per AP News. An additional $1 million will go to Beaver and Lawrence counties to support the residents and business owners adversely affected by the accident. State agencies that responded to the scene of the disaster will be reimbursed almost $1.4 million.

For their part, the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, have filed several lawsuits against Norfolk Southern, alleging that the train operator was negligent and that the spill has wrought catastrophic environmental damage in the area.

Initial pledges made by Norfolk Southern of $25,000 to support cleanup and shelter efforts and $1,000 “inconvenience checks” to eligible residents have since grown to over $3 million. Similar to the pledges made to Ohio, these funds are expected to replace fire equipment and cover evacuation costs for the roughly 900 families and businesses forced from their homes.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on March 4 that it had ordered the train operator to provide “additional financial assistance” to East Palestine residents, including provisions for “temporary lodging, travel, food, clothing, and other necessities,” per The Hill.

Although the area where the accident occurred has been deemed safe by federal and state officials, per AP News, many residents are hesitant to return.

At an informational session held in the town in mid-February, some suggested a failure of transparency from the railroad operator, which did not send representatives, and other officials.

“They just danced around the questions a lot,” Danielle Deal, a resident, told AP News. “Norfolk needed to be here.”

Norfolk Southern has since committed to coordinating cleanup efforts and covering associated costs, as the recent pledges suggest.

On March 6, the company announced a six-point safety plan to enhance its operations’ safety.

As Shaw said in the announcement, “Reading the [National Transportation Safety Board’s] report makes it clear that meaningful safety improvements require a comprehensive industry effort that brings together railcar and tank car manufacturers, railcar owners and lessors, and the railroad companies,” said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw. “We are eager to help drive that effort and we are not waiting to take action.”

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