Norfolk Southern Settles for $500 Million in East Palestine Cleanup Case

( – As a result of the devastating train derailment last year in East Palestine, Ohio, the railroad held responsible agreed to a settlement of $500 million toward clean-up efforts and safety upgrades.

On Thursday, May 23rd, the Biden administration announced that Norfolk Southern will dish out over half a billion dollars toward cleanup efforts and safety improvements. About $310 million will go toward environmental cleanup and preservation projects to mitigate the disaster’s impact on the surrounding area. Another $200 million will go toward implementing safety upgrades and policy changes to the railroad in order to reduce the chances of future derailments.

Norfolk Southern reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Benjamin Mizer, acting Associate Attorney General and Ohio native, called the development “unprecedented.”

EPA Administrator Michael Regan called the upgraded safety mandates “a game-changer” and said that if the proposed provisions were “in place on February 3rd, 2023,” the accident in East Palestine could have perhaps been avoided altogether. He added that although the resolution would not “undo the damage that was done” last year, he hopes the settlement represents “an important step forward” towards “protecting the community” in Ohio, as well as “helping it heal” and preventing future similar disasters.

Alan Shaw, CEO of Norfolk Southern, said in an official statement after the settlement that the company is “pleased” to have been “able to reach a timely resolution of these investigations” in a way that recognizes the company’s “comprehensive response to the community’s needs” and its “mission to be the gold standard” of railway safety in the entire industry.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg praised the Biden administration in his statement, calling the settlement a “historic action” to hold the railway “accountable” for last year’s derailment. Despite the settlement holding the company publicly accountable, it does not include a technical admission of liability by Norfolk Southern. Regardless, it will force the railway to implement changes in operations, and those changes won’t be cheap.

Copyright 2024,