Norfolk Southern to Pay $600 Million Settlement for East Palestine Train Derailment

Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay $600 million in a class action lawsuit settlement for the February 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

If the court approves the agreement, all class action claims “within a 20-mile radius from the derailment and, for those residents who choose to participate, personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius from the derailment” will be resolved, according to a press release.

Those receiving compensation will use the funds to address the effects of the derailment.

“This could include healthcare needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss,” the press release adds. “In addition, individuals within 10-miles of the derailment may, at their discretion, choose to receive additional compensation for any past, current, or future personal injury from the derailment.”

The settlement does not include an admission of wrongdoing.

One East Palestine resident, Eric Cozza, told the Associated Press that the funds are “nowhere near my needs let alone what the health effects are going to be 5 or 10 years down the road.”

Following the derailment, research from Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon University revealed East Palestine, Ohio contained “higher than normal” levels of toxic chemicals in the environment.

The report determined that benzene, vinyl chloride, arcolein, butadiene, o-Xylene, trichloroethylene, napthalene trichloroethane, and p-Xylene were all in the air near the crash site.

According to the researchers, acrolein presents the biggest risk to nearby residents as the limit discovered was well beyond what is considered “safe.”

While the EPA concluded from their investigation an average of just 0.00084 milligrams per cubic meter of benzene in the air, the Texas A&M researchers found 0.03, a 3,371% increase.