EAST PALESTINE, Ohio. — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a new conference Tuesday that they’ve ordered Norfolk Southern to conduct all necessary actions toward cleaning up the site of the train derailment in East Palestine.
According to the EPA, the rail company is required to:
- Identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources.
- Reimburse EPA for cleaning services to be offered to residents and businesses to provide an additional layer of reassurance, which will be conducted by EPA staff and contractors.
- Attend and participate in public meetings at EPA’s request and post information online.
- Pay for EPA’s costs for work performed under this order.
“The Norfolk Southern train derailment has upended the lives of East Palestine families, and EPA’s order will ensure the company is held accountable for jeopardizing the health and safety of this community,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Let me be clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess they created and for the trauma they’ve inflicted on this community. I’m deeply grateful to the emergency responders, including EPA personnel, who’ve been on the ground since day one and ensured there was no loss of life as a result of this disaster. As we transition from emergency response, EPA will continue to coordinate closely with our local, state, and federal partners through a whole-of-government approach to support the East Palestine community during the remediation phase. To the people of East Palestine, EPA stands with you now and for as long as it may take.”
In addition to the order, the EPA said they will approve the company’s workplan in regards to the cleanup. If the company fails to complete any actions as ordered by EPA, they will immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost.
To address the concerns of residents regarding potential indoor contamination, EPA will offer cleaning services to area businesses and families, which Norfolk Southern will reimburse the agency for. More details about how community members can request this service will be available this week, the agency said.
In the news conference, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said there will be weekly testing of the community’s water to ensure it’s safe for use and consumption.
EPA’s order marks the transition of the multi-agency response from its “emergency phase” to a longer-term remediation phase, the agency said.
The order takes effect two days after signature, though the cleanup work has already begun and will continue.
Norfolk Southern issued to following statement in response to the order:
“We recognize that we have a responsibility, and we have committed to doing what’s right for the residents of East Palestine. We have been paying for the clean-up activities to date and will continue to do so. We are committed to thoroughly and safely cleaning the site, and we are reimbursing residents for the disruption this has caused in their lives. We are investing in helping East Palestine thrive for the long-term, and we will continue to be in the community for as long as it takes. We are going to learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve railroad safety.”
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