This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed on Feb 3, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio are still on fire at mid-day on Feb 4, 2023. (PHOTO / AP)
WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice announced on Friday a complaint against Norfolk Southern related to a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month.
The complaint seeks penalties and injunctive relief for "the unlawful discharge of pollutants, oil, and hazardous substances," and declaratory judgment on liability for past and future costs.
On Feb 3, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials, including hazardous substances, pollutants, and oil derailed in East Palestine, a community of approximately 5,000 residents located on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
The derailment resulted in a pile of burning rail cars, and contamination of the community's air, land, and water. Residents living near the derailment site were evacuated.
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The hazardous materials contained in these cars included vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, isobutylene, and benzene residue, according to Norfolk Southern, a freight railroad operating in the Eastern United States.
The fire caused by the derailment burned for several days. On Feb 5, monitoring indicated that the temperature in one of the rail cars containing vinyl chloride was rising. To prevent an explosion, Norfolk Southern vented and burned five rail cars containing vinyl chloride in a flare trench the following day, resulting in additional releases.
Approximately 9.2 million gallons of liquid wastewater and an estimated 12,932 tons of contaminated soils and solids have been shipped off-site, according to the DOJ.
The US Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies are said to continue to investigate the circumstances leading up to and following the derailment.