Biden administration considers penalties for railroad company over Ohio derailment, toxic spill

White House officials are considering civil penalties for Norfolk Southern, the railroad company that owns the freight train that derailed and released toxic chemicals into the environment in East Palestine, Ohio last week.

The toxic derailment has left residents in the area questioning the safety of their homes and the local water supply. Some have reported rashes, headaches, trouble breathing and other effects since the accident on February 3. Local wildlife has also taken a hit from the disaster, with local environmental officials reporting that about 3,500 fish had died in waters impacted by the derailment.

Biden officials are now contemplating what penalties Norfolk Southern should incur as a result of the disaster. Norfolk Southern told residents in a statement after skipping a local town hall this week that the company will be in the area “as long as it takes” to clean up after the incident. Politico reported this week that in a call with emergency officials from FEMA, the EPA, and other federal departments, the administration discussed placing civil penalties on Norfolk Southern in addition to charging the company with the cleanup. Additionally, the officials discussed charging Norfolk Southern three times the cost if the company did not carry out the cleanup on its own.

On Thursday, six members of Congress from Ohio and Pennsylvania sent a letter to Norfolk Southern urging the company to promptly provide written details of the company’s plan to respond to the derailment. Senators Casey, Fetterman, Brown, Vance, and Representatives Deluzio and Johnson all signed the letter, asking Norfolk Southern to explain how it plans to address local business owners who have lost everything due to the event, writing, “It is our expectation that Norfolk Southern will not only fulfill its legal responsibilities, but also its moral obligation to make whole those who have had their lives upended through no fault of their own.”




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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