Norfolk Southern Settles Derailment Suit for $600 Million

Norfolk Southern announced on Tuesday that it agreed to pay $600 million to settle a class-action lawsuit stemming from a February 2023 derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.

The settlement, which must be approved by a judge, includes payments to residents and businesses within 20 miles of the derailment. It also resolves personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius of the derailment.

“Individuals and businesses will be able to use compensation from the settlement in any manner they see fit to address potential adverse impacts from the derailment,” Norfolk Southern said in a statement. “This could include health care needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss.”

The derailed train was carrying a variety of cargo, including 700,000 pounds of vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make plastics. Fearing an explosion, officials released the contents of the car carrying the chemical and set them ablaze in the town, sending up huge plumes of smoke and alarming residents.

Hundreds of people were evacuated after the derailment. Many remain concerned about contamination and say they do not trust the assurances they have received from Norfolk Southern and state and federal officials.

After the incident, regulators vowed to double down on rail safety and lawmakers promised to pass legislation to prevent similar disasters. But proposals to improve rail safety have been bogged down in Congress and the number of derailments at the five biggest railroads increased last year.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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