Norfolk Southern reaches settlement with federal government, will pay $310 million for East Palestine train derailment

Residents affected by the disaster were disappointed to see no criminal charges brought against the railway company.

Norfolk Southern has reached a more than $300 million settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) for damages caused by the 2023 derailment of a train carrying chemicals and hazardous products in East Palestine, Ohio.

According to the statement issued by the EPA this Thursday, the company committed to implementing improvements in railway infrastructure to prevent future similar accidents. Additionally, it agreed to allocate $25 million to a community health program, which includes medical and mental health services for affected residents and first responders.

Over the next decade, Norfolk Southern will need to spend approximately $15 million on groundwater and surface water monitoring and another $15 million on a private drinking water monitoring fund.

The railway company also agreed to pay a fine of $15 million for violations of the Clean Water Act and implement a “waterway remediation plan” with an estimated budget of $6 million to improve water quality in Leslie Run and Sulfur Run.

The agreement includes coverage of past and future costs related to environmental cleanup and remediation, estimated at $235 million, as well as payment of $175,000 to restore or replace natural resources affected by the incident.

Financial impact

Norfolk Southern estimates it will spend more than $1 billion to address pollution and other damage caused by the derailment and improve rail safety and operations. This includes the agreement with the government for more than $310 million, $780 million in environmental response costs, and more than $200 million in rail safety improvements.

No criminal charges

Despite concrete measures established in the agreement to repair the damage caused by the derailment, no criminal charges were filed, which reportedly caused disappointment among residents who were forced to evacuate their homes due to the chemical spill that caused the train derailment.

Norfolk Southern settles class action lawsuit

This announcement comes just days after a federal judge approved a $600 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed by residents affected by the derailment.