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Norfolk Southern reaches $600M agreement with East Palestine residents

More than 14 months after a fiery train derailment rattled a small Ohio town, Norfolk Southern has reached a $600 million agreement to settle claims.
Norfolk Southern reaches $600M agreement with East Palestine residents
Posted at 7:15 AM, Apr 09, 2024

Norfolk Southern said it has reached a $600 million settlement to resolve all class action claims made by residents who live within a 20-mile radius of last year's derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio. 

Residents who live within a 10-mile radius can also receive du their personal injury claims. 

The settlement will need the approval of a court before being finalized. A judge will also help decide how the settlement should be divided. 

Residents in the lawsuit claimed the railroad's negligence was responsible for the train derailment in February 2023 that spewed toxic chemicals into the air and ground of surrounding areas. 

Residents have raised concerns that the derailment has caused long-term health effects and reduced property values, among other impacts. 

"The agreement is designed to provide finality and flexibility for settlement class members," Norfolk Southern said. "Individuals and businesses will be able to use compensation from the settlement in any manner they see fit to address potential adverse impacts from the derailment. This could include healthcare needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss. In addition, individuals within 10-miles of the derailment may, at their discretion, choose to receive additional compensation for any past, current, or future personal injury from the derailment."

SEE MORE: It wasn't just Ohio: Report says vinyl chloride accidents happen often

Through the lawsuit, Norfolk Southern said the settlement does not constitute an admission of liability or wrongdoing. 

There were no direct fatalities from the derailment, but despite assurances from officials, there are lingering concerns over the long-term impacts of vinyl chloride and other chemicals that were released into the atmosphere.

According to the EPA, vinyl chloride is highly flammable and is mostly used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and vinyl products. Short-term exposure to the chemical can cause dizziness, drowsiness and headaches. Long-term exposure can result in liver damage and cancer concerns, the EPA said.

An interim report by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated that a hotbox detector found the temperature of one of the train's wheel bearings was 253 degrees above the ambient temperature. Anything above 200 degrees is considered critical. 

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