Norfolk Southern to Pay $600 Million in Settlement Over Train Derailment in Eastern Ohio

Norfolk Southern has reached a significant agreement, pledging $600 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement linked to a devastating train derailment that occurred in February 2023 in eastern Ohio.

According to the company’s announcement on Tuesday, this settlement, subject to court approval, aims to resolve all class action claims within a 20-mile radius of the derailment site. Additionally, residents within a 10-mile radius who opt to participate can seek compensation for personal injury claims.

Individuals and businesses affected by the derailment will have the flexibility to utilize the settlement funds as they see fit, addressing various needs such as healthcare expenses, property restoration, and mitigating any financial losses suffered by businesses. Moreover, residents within the 10-mile radius will have the option to receive additional compensation for past, present, or future personal injuries resulting from the derailment.

It’s important to note that Norfolk Southern’s participation in this settlement does not imply any admission of liability, wrongdoing, or fault on the company’s part.

Norfolk Southern has already invested over $1.1 billion in response to the derailment, including substantial aid provided directly to East Palestine and its residents. However, the absence of a formal declaration of disaster by President Joe Biden has been a source of frustration for many residents. While the railroad company has pledged to establish a fund to address the long-term health needs of the community, this initiative has yet to materialize.

Federal officials recently determined that the aftermath of the derailment does not meet the criteria for a public health emergency due to the lack of widespread health issues and ongoing chemical exposure documented in the area.

Despite concerns raised by the community and ongoing investigations, including those conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not designated the situation as a public health emergency. The decision to ignite and burn tank cars containing hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, in the days following the derailment further exacerbated contamination concerns.

While the NTSB’s investigation into the derailment’s cause is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest that a malfunctioning wheel bearing on one of the railcars likely triggered the crash.

The EPA anticipates completing the cleanup efforts in East Palestine by the end of the year, bringing a measure of closure to the affected community.

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