COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over its train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleges that the company violated the Clean Water Act for the toxic chemicals and hazardous materials were discharged after the derailment on Feb. 3.
The DOJ wants to hold the company accountable for “unlawfully polluting the nation’s waterways and to ensure it pays the full cost of the environmental cleanup,” according to the lawsuit.
No one was injured in the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, but concerns over a potential explosion led state and local officials to approve releasing and burning toxic vinyl chloride from five tanker cars that forced the evacuations of half the village and closed schools for a week.
Government officials say tests over the past month haven’t found dangerous levels of chemicals in the air or water in the area.
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw apologized before Congress this month for the impact the derailment has had on the area.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Dave Yost announced the railroad company agreed to exclusively hire Ohio companies and workers to do all future repair and replacement work.
This agreement with Norfolk Southern has no bearing on the lawsuit the state filed earlier this month, according to Yost. The millions being spent on cleanup by the company are mandated by a federal order.
Fifteen Ohio-based companies are already involved in the ongoing cleanup. Under the agreement announced by Yost, Norfolk Southern would be allowed to select an out-of-state vendor in the unlikely case that no Ohio companies have the expertise to complete specific work.
This is a developing story.