Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed a civil lawsuit against Norfolk Southern in federal court, according to a press release published on Tuesday.
The suit aims to hold the railroad company financially responsible for the train derailment that occurred on February 3 in East Palestine.
The accident caused the release of over one million gallons of hazardous chemicals, which endangered the health of area residents and Ohio’s natural resources.
According to AG Yost, “Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence. 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 lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, cites Norfolk Southern’s escalating accident rate.
The rate has increased by 80% in the past decade, and at least 20 derailments involving chemical discharges have occurred since 2015, according to the release.
“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 states.
The suit lists 58 violations of various federal and state environmental laws and Ohio Common Law.
These violations include negligence counts relating to defects in the train and its operation, nuisance counts encompassing chemical releases into the air, public waterways, and public land, and trespass counts addressing the contamination of natural resources.
The violations resulted in an untold volume of hazardous pollutants being released into the air, water, and ground.
This poses substantial long-term threats to human health and the environment, the release explains.
The complaint alleges that releases from at least 39 rail cars have made their way into various Ohio waterways, including Sulfur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and the Ohio River.
Furthermore, the derailment has caused significant damage to the regional economy of Ohio, its citizens, and businesses.
Many people have been displaced, their lives interrupted, and their businesses shuttered.