In East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, 2023, a freight train derailed while hauling ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, butyl acrylate, vinyl chloride, and ethylhexyl acrylate.
This article will get you up to date and discuss how Norfolk Southern will be held accountable for this horrible accident, details on the derailment, such as identifying its cause and effects on the environment and the affected individuals, and how the class action lawsuits are going as of today.
Who Is Norfolk Southern
One of the top transportation firms in the country is Norfolk Southern Company. Its subsidiary, Norfolk Southern Railway Company, runs around 19,300 route miles through 22 states and the District of Columbia, provides effective linkages to other railway carriers, and services all of the main eastern container ports.
In addition to transporting industrial goods like metals and building supplies, Norfolk Southern also transports goods related to agriculture, forestry, and consumer goods, as well as chemicals. The railroad is also a major transporter of coal, autos, and automotive components, and it runs the largest intermodal system in the East.
Train Derailment In Ohio
A Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed on February 3, was made up of three engines, including ES44AC #8152 at the front, nine empty cars, and 141 loaded cars. The train was running between Norfolk Southern’s Conway Yard in Pennsylvania, and the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis yard in Illinois.
While no one was hurt, hydrogen chloride and phosgene emission was released into the atmosphere. It was mainly due to emergency responders performing a controlled burn of the spill at the state officers’ request in order to prevent an uncontrollable explosion, which resulted in fires and black smoke rising into the air which caused residents within a 1 mi (1.6 km) radius to evacuate. This also resulted in the launch of a disaster response involving organizations from three different states.
According to the state Department of Natural Resources, the leaked toxins killed 3,500 fish over 7 miles of the Ohio River.
Moreover, as reported by firsthand accounts, farm animals and pets have become ill, the Associated Press stated. State officials similarly said that there had been no documented associated animal deaths. Forensic tests and lab tests would be necessary for said confirmation in order to establish a link to the occurrence.
The Environmental Protection Agency stated in a press conference on Thursday, February 16th, that tests on soil and water have not yet turned up with any toxins. Nonetheless, the organization advises those who rely on private groundwater sources to wait to consume from private water sources until they have been examined by a third party.
What Caused The Train To Derail
The National Transportation Safety Board revealed what it suspects is the reason during a news briefing on Sunday, February 5th.
Michael Graham of the National Transportation Safety Board stated that they have two films that reveal initial signs of mechanical problems on one of the railcars’ axles.
When a wheel bearing on a railcar heats up, this is referred to as a “hot box.” In this instance, excessive heating caused a fire, which in turn caused the derailment.
The train was unable to halt in time, unfortunately. Just prior to the train derailing, you can see some of the wheels on flames in a spectator video as it was still running.
The three passengers—an engineer, a conductor, and a conductor trainee—were unharmed. After turning around, the conductor uncoupled the engines from the railcars.
Prior to derailing on February 3, Norfolk Southern workers had informed CBS News that the train experienced at least one breakdown on its trip. The magnitude of the train—18,000 tons and 9,300 feet, or 1.8 miles—was cited as the cause by the employees.
To evaluate the crash, the collected information will be thoroughly and systematically examined.
The railcars will be transferred for a more thorough damage evaluation when the fire has been put out.
Norfolk Southern was asked by the NTSB to provide records of track inspections, engine and railcar assessments, and training. Further, the derailment investigation will be finalized in around 18 to 24 months.
Class Action Lawsuit Updates: Northfolk Southern Train Accident
On Wednesday, East Palestine, Ohio, residents filed class action lawsuits suing Norfolk Southern, the newest in a slew of legal actions the publicly traded business is facing as a result of the devastating incident on February 3.
In addition to punitive damages, plaintiffs are asking for healthcare monitoring, injunctive and declarative relief, as well as damages for injuries, emotional distress, lost property value, and heightened hazards of future ailment, alleging that attempts by the business as well as local and state officials to clean up after the incident actually made things severe.
According to the claim, Norfolk Southern doused the town in chemicals as it put the safety of its shareholders and the restoration of rail service ahead of the health of the locals.
It goes on to assert that by setting the chemical spills on fire, Phosgene Gas was discharged into the atmosphere and a chemical burn pit weighing more than one million pounds was produced.
“The people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities are facing an unprecedented array of threats to their health,” the legal firm said in a declaration. Such threats vary from chemicals that induce vomiting and nausea to a substance that causes the majority of chemical warfare mortalities throughout World War I.
There are at least five potential class action lawsuits against Norfolk Southern Railway Co. Further, the fact that the freight train had broken down just 24 hours previously has also come to light.
With a troubled history of fatal accidents and intimidating whistleblowers, Norfolk Southern came under fire for safety breaches last year when it decided to authorize $10 billion in stock buybacks for shareholders rather than repair work and service maintenance.
Rail unions claim that the incident was “years in the planning,” and towns are now seeking answers out of concern over potential health effects.
The event has raised awareness of precision-focused railroading, a managerial strategy that employees claim has made trains riskier and more difficult to control. According to a recent Government Accountability Office analysis, PSR caused the workforce at the seven largest commercial railways to be reduced by 28%. Derailments varied in quantity, with Norfolk Southern stating 2 per million train miles during the last ten years.
Moreover, Norfolk Southern executives declined to attend the public meeting in East Palestine on February 15, Wednesday night to address locals’ worries due to their concerns for their safety.
Feb 18, 2023 – Tribeca is evaluating the possibility of reserving a fund specifically for providing pre settlement cash advances to those affected by the tragedy. Please bookmark this page and check for subsequent updates on legal funding considerations.