Ohio train derailment: EPA says Norfolk Southern could be fined $70,000 per day for failure to clean up East Palestine site

(CNN) The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has threatened Norfolk Southern with costly consequences if it fails to fully clean up its toxic train wreck and fails to pay for the fallout in East Palestine, Ohio.

EPAs A new, legally binding order — effective Thursday — “will make sure Norfolk Southern pays for the mess they created,” EPA Administrator Michael Reagan told CNN on Wednesday.

For weeks, area residents complained Various health problems Dark clouds of smoke have been billowing over the community of about 5,000 since the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals.

To prevent a deadly explosion of vinyl chloride, the crew He released the toxic chemical into a trench and burned it.

Regan said that although testing shows the air and municipal water in East Palestine are still safe, symptoms they believe may be related to decomposition should “seek medical attention.”

“Make sure state and local health agencies understand those experiences, because we’re insisting that Norfolk Southern take full responsibility for what they did, that Norfolk Southern will pay for everything,” Reagan said.

EPA cited its authority under CERCLA — The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

On Wednesday, Reagan summarized the EPA’s demands to Norfolk Southern:

“Number one: They clean up every piece of debris, every pollutant, to EPA specifications and satisfaction,” Reagan told CNN.

“Number two: They’re going to pay for it — pay in full. Anytime, if we have to step in because they refuse to do anything, we’ll clean up ourselves. They could be fined up to $70,000 a day,” the EPA chief said.

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“When we recover our total costs, we can charge three times the federal amount. That’s what the law provides.”

Norfolk Southern said it has been working with EPA and local crews since the Feb. 3 derailment.

“From day one, I promised that Norfolk Southern was going to fix the site,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw told CNN on Tuesday.

“We’re going to do that with continued long-term air and water monitoring. We’re going to help the residents of this community recover. And we’re going to invest in the long-term health of this community. And we’re going to make Norfolk Southern a safer railroad.

Norfolk Southern has committed millions of dollars worth of financial assistance to East Palestine, including $3.4 million in direct financial assistance to families and $1 million in community assistance funds, The. The company said.

Removal of contaminated soil and water from under the tracks at the derailment site is underway. Ohio officials said the tracks will be raised to remove the soil.

Drone footage shows the wreckage from the February 6 derailment.

Devine said 4,588 cubic yards of soil and 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water have been removed from East Palestine so far.

The Contaminated soil A public document sent to the EPA on February 10 became controversial last week because it did not list soil removal among the completed cleanup activities. It is not yet known what significance or impact the soil, which was not removed before the opening of the railway line on February 8, would have had on the surrounding areas.

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“That’s right there “The railroad started, the tracks started running again, and the citizens were concerned that the dirt under the tracks was not removed,” Devine said.

The Governor of Pennsylvania announces a criminal recommendation

Derailments in East Palestine near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania led to evacuations in both states.

Now, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro says Norfolk Southern gave officials “false information” in the days after the toxic spill.

“Overall, Norfolk Southern paid undue risk in this crisis,” Shapiro said Tuesday.

He said Pennsylvania environmental officials have made a “criminal recommendation” against Norfolk Southern.

After the allegations, Norfolk Southern released a statement to CNN:

“We recognize that we have a responsibility and we are committed to doing what is right for the residents of East Palestine,” the company said on Tuesday.

“We have paid for the cleanup to date and will continue to do so. We are committed to cleaning up the site thoroughly and safely, and we are paying back the disruption it has caused to residents’ lives. We are investing. We will help East Palestine prosper for the long term, and we will continue to be in the community for as long as it takes.” We will learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve railroad safety.”

On the Ohio side of the border, Gov. Mike DeWine said the state attorney general is “reviewing all the actions that the law allows him to take.”

‘There is something fundamentally wrong’

The toxic derailment has prompted calls for better rail safety and questions about current laws on the movement of toxic materials.

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DeWine said it was “ridiculous” that there was no legal requirement for Norfolk Southern to notify officials that a train carrying hazardous materials would be traveling through the state.

“There’s something fundamentally wrong when a train like this comes into a state, and the current law doesn’t require that, whatever they’re hauling, they’re not required to notify state or local authorities,” Devine said.

It is absurd that the railway company should issue that notification that the train is not eligible under the existing law.”

President Joe Biden called on Congress to help implement rail safety measures and accused the Trump administration of controlling the government. Ability to strengthen rail security measures. He expressed his frustration Instagram post.

“This is more than a train derailment or a toxic waste spill — it’s years of resistance to safety measures coming home,” Biden wrote.

CNN’s Celina Tebor, Kevin Liptak, Artemis Moshtagian, Sara Sidner and Yon Pomrenze contributed to this report.

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