The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Norfolk Southern on Tuesday to pay for the cleanup and restitution of the toxic East Palestine, Ohio, train wreck site.
The demand comes just days after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to the company’s CEO outlining his disappointment in its response to date, as Breitbart News reported.
Speaking to reporters near the derailment site, AP reports Norfolk Southern’s CEO Alan Shaw promised to do all within his power to ensure the long-term health of the community and become a “safer railroad.”
EPA used its authority under the federal Superfund law to order Norfolk Southern to take all available measures to clean up contaminated air and water.
It also said the company would be required to reimburse the federal government for a new program to provide cleaning services for impacted residents and businesses, according to the AP report.
EPA Administrator Michael Regan vowed at a news conference in East Palestine that work will begin soon to fix the blight that now surrounds the township. He added:
Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess that they created and the trauma that they inflicted on this community.
I know this order cannot undue the nightmare that families in this town have been living with, but it will begin to deliver much-needed justice for the pain that Norfolk Southern has caused.
He warned if the rail company fails to comply, the agency will perform the work itself and seek triple damages from the company.
EPA planned to release more details on the cleanup service for residents and businesses, which it said would “provide an additional layer of reassurance,” even as elsewhere in the country basic transport infrastructure begins to fail on President Joe Biden’s watch:
The agency said its order marked the end of the “emergency” phase of the Feb. 3 derailment and the start of long-term remediation.
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw reiterated promises to restore the site and invest in the community. He gave no further details on what that involved or a timeline.