Fri, 31 Mar 2023

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. state of Ohio sued railroad Norfolk Southern on Tuesday over the train derailment in the state's East Palestine last month.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a 58-count civil lawsuit in federal court seeking to hold Norfolk Southern financially responsible for the Feb. 3 incident.

Yost's office said the train derailment caused the release of over 1 million gallons of hazardous chemicals, "recklessly endangering" both the health of area residents and Ohio's natural resources.

"The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come," Yost said in a statement. "There's still so much we don't know about the long-term effects on our air, water, and soil."

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, cited Norfolk Southern's escalating accident rate, which has allegedly risen 80 percent in the past 10 years.

At least 20 Norfolk Southern derailments since 2015 have involved chemical discharges, according to the lawsuit.

The train derailment in East Palestine, a village located on Ohio's border with Pennsylvania, involved 11 tank cars carrying hazardous materials.

Emergency personnel later conducted a "controlled venting" of five tank cars carrying vinyl chloride, which discharged toxic and potentially deadly fumes into the air.

East Palestine residents were allowed to return to their homes but many of them remain concerned about the handling of the incident as well as the health impact of exposure to those chemicals.

Headache, anxiety, coughing, fatigue and irritation, pain, and burning of the skin continue to be the most common symptoms reported by residents in the East Palestine area, according to a health assessment survey.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw told U.S. lawmakers last week that he's "deeply sorry" for the derailment's impact, vowing that the company "will clean the site safely, thoroughly, and with urgency."

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