EPA Administrator Touts ‘Game-Changer’ Safety Measures In Norfolk Southern Settlement

The settlement reached between Norfolk Southern and the Biden administration following the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine Ohio last year includes “game-changer” safety upgrades that could have prevented the accident according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan. The agreement announced Thursday is estimated to be worth $310 million and requires the railway company to invest an additional $200 million in rail safety improvements.

“Considering its large market share we expect that these required provisions will advance safer practices across the railroad industry for many years to come” Regan said. “Today’s agreement clearly demonstrates that these safety practices are both reasonable and achievable by the broader industry.”

The settlement includes $235 million for cleanup costs a $15 million Clean Water Act penalty the largest allowed under the law and funds for community health programs groundwater and surface water monitoring and private drinking water monitoring. Norfolk Southern does not admit liability but CEO Alan Shaw expressed pleasure at reaching a timely resolution.

The company estimates it will spend over $1 billion in total to address the contamination caused by the derailment which involved the release of chemicals such as vinyl chloride used in plastic production. Residents of East Palestine have reported respiratory issues headaches and other health concerns in the aftermath of the incident.

The settlement will undergo a 30-day public comment period before requiring judicial approval. Senators from Ohio are continuing to push for legislative changes to rail safety but a bipartisan bill has stalled in the Senate. The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a report on the derailment in the coming weeks.

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