The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Norfolk Southern to handle all necessary cleanup after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.
The EPA announced its legally binding order Tuesday, 18 days after the freight train derailment. The catastrophe started a fire that lasted a day, sent plumes of black smoke into the air and caused the intentional release of vinyl chloride to prevent a more catastrophic explosion.
Some residents have reported health problems, and some 3,500 fish have died in Ohio’s waterways since the accident.
“Norfolk Southern will pay to clean up the mess it has created and the trauma it has inflicted on this community,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters.
As part of EPA’s legally binding order, Norfolk Southern will:
Identify and clean up contaminated soil and water resources,
Reimburse EPA for cleanup services that will be provided to residents and businesses to provide an extra layer of peace of mind, and that will be performed by EPA personnel and contractors,
Attend and participate in public meetings at the request of EPA and post information online, and
Pay EPA’s costs for work performed under the order.
The order will go into effect this Thursday.