Norfolk Southern Near Ready to Reopen Some Tracks in Ohio
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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Norfolk Southern says it has completed excavation of the impacted soil underneath the south track at the site of the East Palestine train derailment and will finish restoration of the track in the coming days. The railroad company made the announcement in a press release, adding that remediation work on the north track will begin soon.
Norfolk Southern said the 1,900-foot section of the south track was reinstalled after EPA-approved testing confirmed the impacted soil under the removed track had been excavated.
The Norfolk Southern press release said remediation work on the north track is expected to begin next week.
The company said trains may temporarily run on both tracks “to ensure the replaced track properly settles and is safe for normal train traffic.” Traffic will stop on the north track to continue remediation work, including removing impacted soil and water and conducting daily environmental monitoring, the company said.
“We are making progress every day on our commitment to clean up the derailment site and make it right for the community of East Palestine,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said in the release. “Today marks a major milestone in the remediation process.”
The East Palestine derailment occurred on Feb. 3 when 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed along a stretch of track in the city. Several of the cars ignited, burning for more than two days. Emergency crews then did a controlled burn of several cars, which released toxins, including hydrogen chloride and phosgene, into the air.
Residents within a 1-mile radius were evacuated, and an emergency response was initiated from agencies in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Norfolk Southern announced plans back in February to dig out the soil beneath the tracks at the site after hearing from the community.
Residents who attended a town hall after the derailment demanded answers about the cleanup efforts of the wreck. Residents were worried about long-term health impacts from the fire and from the burning of the chemical vinyl chloride.
The company claims that testing continues to show the air and water are safe, and said remediation efforts are ongoing both at the derailment site and in the surrounding area.
The company says it rerouted Sulphur Run, a small stream in the area, around the derailment site and continues downstream testing. Any contaminated sections are undergoing remediation, it said in the release.
Norfolk Southern says it is continuing to work with the community and the East Palestine Train Derailment Unified Command to complete the remediation efforts at the site and surrounding community.
The company says that to date, it has excavated and transported more than 25,000 tons of soil off-site for proper disposal. Additionally, over 12 million gallons of impacted water have been recovered and transported off-site.
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