The Ohio Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against Norfolk Southern Railway in federal court Tuesday, alleging that the company violated water quality and hazardous waste laws and was negligent in causing the train derailment and the release of chemicals. toxins last month in East Palestine, Ohio.

the demand — which addresses alleged harm to the state, its economy and its natural resources — adds to the railroad’s legal woes in the wake of the train derailment and subsequent release of toxic chemicals, which the complaint said included more than 1 million gallons of dangerous materials.

The lawsuit increases pressure on Norfolk Southern and could be a legal avenue to address the lasting impacts of chemicals spilled and burned in eastern Palestine. The lawsuit asks the court to require the company to pay for future environmental monitoring and reimburse the state for costs associated with its response and remediation, among other concerns.

Parts of a Norfolk Southern freight train are on fire the day after it derailed on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.File Gene J. Puskar / AP

“The consequences of this highly preventable accident will reverberate in Ohio and Ohioans for many years to come,” Ohio Attorney General David Yost said at a news conference. “The company has repeatedly said that it wants to do things right. Our lawsuit is designed to make sure they keep their promise.»

In a statement sent to NBC News, Norfolk Southern said its goal «has been to do the right thing for the people of East Palestine and its surrounding communities, and said it was «listening carefully to community concerns about whether there could be a situation at hand.» long term». long-term impacts of the derailment,” noting that company representatives recently met with Yost to discuss additional programs the railroad might choose to offer residents.

The statement said the company was interested in developing programs to protect drinking water, creating a long-term medical compensation fund and «providing personalized protection for home sellers if their property loses value due to the impact of the derailment.»

“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 statement said.

Private citizens have filed a series of lawsuits. Yost said this lawsuit will run in parallel with those complaints.

“Private lawsuits represent individual people with individual damages. Our lawsuit seeks harm to the state of Ohio, to its environment, to its economy, as well as broader harm to people,» Yost said. “These are different consequences of the same facts.”

Image: Olivia Holley, 22, and Taylor Gulish, 22, collect water samples from Leslie Run Creek on February 25, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.  Holley and Gulish are testing the water for pH and total dissolved solids (TDS).
People collect water samples from Leslie Run Creek February 25 in East Palestine, Ohio, to test the pH and total dissolved solids in the water.File by Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Yost said the state believes the derailment could have been prevented and is concerned about Norfolk’s broader safety record in recent years.

“This derailment was completely preventable. I am concerned that Norfolk and Southern may be putting their own company’s profits above the health and safety of the cities and communities in which they operate,» Yost said.

Norfolk Southern did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

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