Norfolk Southern is now facing a civil lawsuit from the US Justice Department. Filed Thursday, the suit alleges violations to the Clean Water Act and seeks damages over the environmental disaster caused by the Norfolk train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in February.
DOJ filed the lawsuit on behalf of the EPA.
Norfolk Southern issued a statement to CNN on Friday, insisting they’ve made "progress every day cleaning up the site, assisting residents whose lives were impacted by the derailment, and investing in the future of East Palestine and the surrounding areas.”
"We are working with urgency, at the direction of the US EPA, and making daily progress," the statement reads. "That remains our focus and we'll keep working until we make it right."
The DOJ’s lawsuit aims for "injunctive relief, cost recovery and civil penalties" for the discharge of hazardous materials into waters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Ohio likewise filed a 58-count federal lawsuit against the train company onMarch 14.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, eventually necessitating a controlled burn that resulted in toxic fumes – killing thousands of fish. Seven federal investigators also fell ill in early March at the site, according to the CDC.
"Symptoms resolved for most team members later the same afternoon, and everyone resumed work on survey data collection within 24 hours. Impacted team members have not reported ongoing health effects," a CDC spokesperson says.
Norfolk Southern must supervise and pay for all cleanup, according to the EPA.
"When a Norfolk Southern train derailed last month in East Palestine, Ohio, it released toxins into the air, soil, and water, endangering the health and safety of people in surrounding communities," Attorney General Merrick B. Garland says.
"With this complaint, the Justice Department and the EPA are acting to pursue justice for the residents of East Palestine and ensure that Norfolk Southern carries the financial burden for the harm it has caused and continues to inflict on the community," he adds.
DOJ is asking for $64,618 per day, per violation of the Clean Water Act and $55,808 per day or $2,232 per barrel of oil or unit of hazardous substance.
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