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EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up aftermath of Ohio train derailment

EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced that his agency has ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the aftermath of the train derailment in East Palestine.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — More than two weeks after a train carrying hazardous materials was derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up the aftermath.

U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan made the announcement during a press conference alongside Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro in East Palestine on Tuesday afternoon. The announcement comes as Norfolk Southern has continued to face criticism for its response to the derailment, which resulted in a temporary evacuation of the area and a controlled release of the hazardous materials inside the train.

"I know this order cannot undo the nightmare that families in this town have been living with," Regan said, "but it will begin to deliver much-needed justice for the pain that Norfolk Southern has caused."

According to Regan, the order requires Norfolk Southern, the railway operator responsible for the Feb. 3 derailment, to do the following:

  • Clean up all contamination in soil and water and safely transport the contamination to appropriate locations to ensure that residents aren't further impacted. The cleanup must be performed to EPA specifications.
  • Reimburse the EPA for cleaning services that will be offered to all residents and businesses in the radius of the crash. The services will be performed by EPA staff and contractors with extensive experience in such cleanups.
  • Attend and participate in public meetings at EPA's request and share information with the public to create full transparency.
  • EPA will review and approve Norfolk Southern's work plan with input from state and local government officials.
  • If Norfolk Southern fails to complete any action ordered by the EPA, the agency will immediately step in, conduct the work on its own and then force Norfolk Southern to pay triple in cost.

"In no way shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created," Regan said.

Norfolk Southern responded to Regan later on Tuesday in a statement that said in part, “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."

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had previously considered suing the company, while both U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Gov. Shapiro have referred to the company's "corporate greed."

On Tuesday, DeWine also announced that a medical center for residents with health concerns had opened in East Palestine. Testing of the area's air and water also remains ongoing.

You can watch the entirety of Tuesday's press conference in the video player below.

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