The Justice Department on Friday sued Norfolk Southern for violating the Clean Water Act in its response to the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
March 31 (UPI) -- The Justice Department on Friday filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that released toxic chemicals into the environment.
The Department of Justice said it filed the suit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that Norfolk Southern violated provisions within the Clean Water Act.
"When a Norfolk Southern train derailed last month in East Palestine, Ohio, it released toxins into the air, soil and water, endangering the health and safety of people in surrounding communities," Attorney General Merrick Garland said. "With this complaint, the Justice Department and EPA are acting to pursue justice for the residents of East Palestine and ensure that Norfolk Southern carries the financial burden for the harm it has caused and continues to inflict on the community."
The suit seeks relief amounting to nearly $65,000 for each day that the company violated environmental clean water regulations by unlawfully discharging pollutants, oil and hazardous substances following the crash.
Last month, the EPA ordered the company to "conduct all necessary actions associated with the cleanup" including identifying and cleaning up contaminated soil and water resources, reimbursing the EPA for contract cleaning services for residents and businesses in the spill zone, attending and participating in public meetings at the EPA's request and posting updated information online as well as pay for the agency's costs for any work performed.
The Justice Department said Thursday that the EPA has been overseeing the company's work under the order and that about 9.2 million gallons of wastewater and 12,932 tons of contaminated soils and solids have been removed from the site.
"With today's action, we are once more delivering on our commitment to ensure Norfolk Southern cleans up the mess they made and pays for the damage they have inflicted as we work to ensure the community can feel safe at home again," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.
Earlier this month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also submitted a 53-count suit against Norfolk Southern in the District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
"The derailment was just one in a long string of Norfolk Southern train derailments, hazmat incidents/community evacuations," Yost said in the complaint.