“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”
The state’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, and cites the company’s escalating accident rate, which has risen 80% in the past 10 years, the release said. At least 20 Norfolk Southern derailments since 2015 have involved chemical discharges, it added.
“The derailment was entirely avoidable and the direct result of Norfolk Southern’s practice of putting its own profits above the health, safety and welfare of the communities in which Norfolk Southern operates,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that various violations by Norfolk Southern resulted in an untold volume of hazardous pollutants being released into the air, water, and ground, posing substantial, long-term threats to human health and the environment.
The complaint says releases from at least 39 rail cars have made their way into Sulfur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, the Ohio River and/or some still-unknown Ohio waterways.
Likewise, the derailment “has caused substantial damage to the regional economy of the state of Ohio, its citizens and its businesses. The citizens of the region have been displaced, their lives interrupted and their businesses shuttered,” the lawsuit alleges.
In addition to asking for recovery of costs from the incident for emergency response, damages for impacts to natural resources and property, and economic harm to Ohio and its residents, the complaint asks the court to require Norfolk Southern to conduct future monitoring of soil and groundwater at the derailment location, the surrounding areas and beyond – and to submit a closure plan to the Ohio EPA.
The lawsuit also seeks to prohibit Norfolk Southern from disposing of additional waste at the derailment site and from polluting Ohio waters.
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