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EPA orders Norfolk Southern to clean up after Ohio train derailment

USDOT Secretary Buttigieg calls on the rail industry to improve accountability and safety.

Photo by National Transportation Safety Board on Wikimedia / CC PDM 1.0

On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Norfolk Southern to “conduct all necessary actions associated with the cleanup from the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.”

Norfolk Southern will be required to clean up contaminated soil and water resources, participate in public meetings at EPA’s request, and cover all costs for work performed under the order. These costs include cleaning services rendered for residents and businesses.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan thanked Biden for reaffirming his commitment to supporting the cleanup efforts. “We are going to hold Norfolk Southern accountable to clean up and pay for the mess they made,” Regan added.

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called on the rail industry to “take immediate, commonsense steps to improve accountability and safety.” These steps include accelerating the phasing-in of safer tanker cars and providing workers with paid sick leave.

The USDOT will also initiate a focused safety inspection program on routes that carry high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs).

Buttigieg tweeted: “Profit and expediency must never outweigh the safety of the American people. The freight railroad industry should make these changes now while we continue to act as an administration – and I look forward to working with Congress to deliver better accountability and safety.”