(Reuters) — The state of Ohio sued Norfolk Southern Tuesday over the Feb. 3 derailment of a freight train that released over a million gallons of hazardous materials and pollutants into the environment around the city of East Palestine.
“This derailment was completely avoidable,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a news conference, adding that he was seeking damages for damage to the state’s environment, economy and residents.
Ohio’s lawsuit, filed in US District Court, said the derailment resulted in the release of over a million gallons of hazardous materials and other harmful pollutants into Ohio’s air, streams, rivers, soil and groundwater “killing tens of thousands of fish and other animals, and recklessly endangering The health of Ohioans throughout the region.”;
The derailment is expected to trigger extensive insurance claims.
The state is seeking past and future costs associated with the derailment, alleging the railroad violated state laws governing the control of hazardous waste, solid waste and air and water pollution.
Norfolk Southern “has an extensive and tragic history of derailments and releases of hazardous materials. … Norfolk Southern’s own records show that it was aware of—and should have taken appropriate steps to prevent—the significant
damage that the derailment would cause,” the lawsuit states.
On Monday, Yost met with Norfolk Southern and discussed several issues, including the creation of a “fund to offset long-term losses of property values.”
“This lawsuit is designed to ensure that Norfolk Southern keeps its word to the people of East Palestine,” Yost said.
Norfolk Southern said in a statement that it is working to create three long-term funds to benefit East Palestine, including one that provides “tailored protection for home sellers if their property loses value” because of the derailment.