After a derailment, Washington orders the railway company to pay for the cleanup

After a derailment, Washington orders the railroad to pay the derailment ;pollution


The U.S. government on Tuesday ordered a railroad whose train carrying toxic chemicals recently derailed to clean up pollution resulting from the accident and take financial responsibility for the operation, by threatening to make her pay “triple” the costs if she did not comply. 

On February 3, the derailment in the community of East Palestine, Ohio, caused a huge fire and the evacuation of hundreds of people. Among other things, the train was carrying vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic and highly flammable chemical used in the manufacture of plastic.

The railway authorities had carried out “controlled” releases of vinyl chloride to avoid a possible explosion, releasing toxic fumes.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a communicated having asked the company Norfolk Southern to “clean up the contaminated soil and water resources” and to “reimburse the EPA for the cleaning services which will be offered to residents and businesses in order to reassure them even more”.

This is a binding order, according to the EPA.

The agency said it would approve a plan detailing “all measures necessary to clean up the environmental damage caused by the derailment” .

“If the company does not carry out the actions ordered by the EPA, the Agency will intervene immediately, do the necessary work and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost,” said asserted the EPA.

“Let's be clear: Norfolk Southern is going to pay to clean up the mess it has created and the trauma it has inflicted on this population,” said EPA Chief Michael Regan.

Asked by AFP, the company said it recognized having “a responsibility”.

“We have so far paid for the cleanup operations and will continue to do so. We are committed to cleaning the site thoroughly and in a safe manner, and we are in the process of reimbursing residents for the disruption caused to their daily lives,” said Norfolk Southern.

“We will learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve rail safety,” she added.

President Joe Biden's administration has been working to provide reassurance after the derailment, as residents expressed their anger and concern over the pollution and the potential health consequences.

Some reported to media that they had experienced various symptoms, including headaches , and said they feared they would end up with cancer in a few years. An estimated 3,500 fish also died in nearby waterways, according to the local natural resources agency.

Authorities said that the air was “safe” and that municipal system water tests had detected no pollutants, but residents are skeptical and some have already filed complaints against the rail company.