Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern in federal court for “recklessly endangering” the health of residents in East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding area after a train derailment in the state last month sparked a public health and environmental emergency.
The suit filed in federal court by Attorney General Dave Yost (R) on Tuesday includes 58 complaints against Norfolk Southern, seeking to hold the rail company financially responsible for the derailment, looking to recover “lost taxes and other economic losses (Ohio) has suffered.”
“Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” Yost said in a statement. “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 106-page suit filed against the company alleges that the company violated myriad federal and state laws, seeking a minimum of $75,000 in federal damages, but the state says that total “will far exceed that minimum as the situation in East Palestine continues to unfold.”
The complaint holds that chemical releases from at least 39 cars made their way into at least six riverways in the state.
The state is seeking repayment for the state’s emergency response, natural resource and property damages and civil penalties under state allow, amongst other claims.
The attorney general’s office argues 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.”
Norfolk Southern said in a statement to The Hill that its focus since the derailment has been to clean up the area and support residents and local businesses, including giving financial assistance.
“We look forward to working toward a final resolution with Attorney General Yost and others as we coordinate with his office, community leaders, and other stakeholders to finalize the details of these programs,” the company said in the statement.
The attorney general is also asking the court to require the company to conduct further testing of soil and groundwater at the derailment location and the surrounding area, as officials continue to monitor the extended fallout of the incident.
Reporting from The Hill.