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Casey: “We must do more to…ensure Pennsylvanians are never forced to go through this hell again”

Washington, D.C. - Today, after the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice have reached a $310 million settlement with Norfolk Southern for damage caused by the 2023 train derailment, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement:

“Today’s settlement is a critical step towards providing a measure of justice for the families who are still suffering in the wake of the derailment and holding Norfolk Southern accountable for the reckless failure that imperiled the lives of so many Pennsylvanians. However, we must do more to provide relief and care for the communities that were devastated by this catastrophe, and to prevent future derailments and ensure Pennsylvanians are never forced to go through this hell again.”

Under today’s settlement, Norfolk Southern has agreed to:

  • Spend an estimated $235 million for all past and future costs, so that cleanup efforts can continue and the company, rather than taxpayers, covers the cost.
  • Change a number of processes to increase rail safety, including decreasing the distance between sensors that determine if a train is reaching dangerous temperatures and ensuring that trains that reach a dangerous temperature are required to stop and be inspected.
  • Pay a $15 million civil penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act.
  • Pay $25 million for a 20-year community health program that includes medical monitoring for qualified individuals and mental health services for individuals residing in affected counties – including those in Pennsylvania – as well as first responders who worked at the site, and a community facilitation plan to assist community members in using the benefits of the program.
  • Spend approximately $15 million to implement long-term monitoring of groundwater and surface water for a period of 10 years.
  • Pay $15 million for a private drinking water monitoring fund that will continue the existing private drinking water well monitoring program for 10 years.
  • Implement a “waterways remediation plan,” with an estimated budget of $6 million, for projects in Leslie Run and Sulphur Run that will prioritize addressing historical pollution, reducing non-point source pollution through infrastructure upgrades and stormwater management projects, and restoring aquatic and riparian habitat.

Today’s settlement follows a complaint filed by the United States against Norfolk Southern in March 2023 for unlawful discharges of pollutants and hazardous substances caused by the train derailment. In February 2023, EPA issued a unilateral administrative order, holding Norfolk Southern accountable for the damage done to the community, required cleanup of spilled substances and impacted soils. In total, Norfolk Southern estimates that it will spend more than $1 billion to address the contamination caused by the East Palestine derailment and improve rail safety and operations, which includes this settlement with the United States valued at over $310 million, as well as around $780 million in environmental response costs incurred by Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern has estimated its costs since the derailment will exceed $200 million in rail safety enhancements, including those required by this settlement.

Since the Norfolk Southern train derailment in February 2023, Senator Casey has been fighting relentlessly to ensure victims of the disaster receive the resources, reimbursement, and support they need to recover. On numerous occasions, Casey has pressed Norfolk Southern to meet its obligation to compensate the residents of Darlington and play a significant role in the clean-up and damage remediation process, pushing Norfolk Southern to provide $1.2 million in total funding for Darlington Township. He has also led efforts to protect the health of Darlington residents, repeatedly advocating for the federal government to devote significant resources to expand access to clean public drinking water and increase health assistance and monitoring in the region.

Casey has also made preventing future derailments a major legislative focus in the wake of the Darlington derailment. In March 2023, he introduced the bipartisan Railway Safety Act, which would take key steps to improve rail safety protocols and reduce the possibility of derailments. He has also repeatedly pushed the Department of Transportation and Norfolk Southern to take steps to strengthen safety protocols and decrease the likelihood of future derailments.

See Senator Casey’s full record on the Norfolk Southern derailment HERE.