AG Yost files suit against Norfolk Southern, says derailment was 'entirely avoidable'
Attorney General Dave Yost has announced a federal lawsuit against Norfolk Southern on behalf of the State of Ohio.
The 106-page, 58-count complaint looks to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the actions that led up to the toxic train derailment in East Palestine on February 3rd.
"Ohio shouldn't have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern's glaring negligence," said Yost.
The derailment caused the release over more than 1 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the environment. Releases from 39 of the rail cars involved have seeped into Sulfur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, the Ohio River, and some waterways that are still unknown.
"This derailment was entirely avoidable," Yost said. "I'm concerned that Norfolk Southern may be putting profits for their own company above the health and safety of the cities and communities that they operate in."
Yost reassured that people who have, or will have, long term health impacts from the derailment will be taken care of well into the future.
Over the past 10 years, Norfolk Southern's accident rate has risen 80%. Since 2015, at least 20 Norfolk Southern derailments have involve chemical leaks.
Yost noted that the goal of this lawsuit is to make sure the rail company keeps its word, following repeated comments from Norfolk officials saying that they will make the situation right.
The lawsuit seeks several penalties, including:
- A declaratory judgment holding Norfolk Southern responsible
- Repayment of costs, including present and future costs incurred by the state in responding to the emergency, providing public services, preventing future harm to the environment and public health, restoring natural resources, and abating the nuisance
- Repayment of damages such as natural resource damages, property damages, and economic harm to the state and its residents
- Civil penalties under state environmental laws
- Repayment of court costs
The complaint asks for a minimum of $75,000 in federal damages, though Yost acknowledged that the damages will far exceed that number. It also would require Norfolk Southern to monitor the derailment site and surrounding areas far into the future.