Norfolk Southern Corporation today provided an update on its assistance efforts to the community of East Palestine, Ohio. These include direct support for residents through Norfolk Southern’s Family Assistance Center, equipment for first responders, and continued environmental testing and monitoring, which is being done in coordination with the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA), and other environmental agencies.
Family Assistance Center
To date, more than 700 families and a number of businesses have been helped. In total, more than $1 million has been distributed directly to families to cover costs related to the evacuation. Those include reimbursements and cash advancements for lodging, travel, food, clothes, and other related items. Norfolk Southern is in the process of contacting and meeting with affected local businesses to provide aid. To date, more than 30 businesses have been contacted.
Residents and businesses who have questions or need financial assistance should visit the Family Assistance Center at Abundant Life Church located 46469 State Route 46, New Waterford, Ohio, or call 1-800-230-7049.
Norfolk Southern continues to meet with local, state, and federal leaders to assist first responders and the community. That assistance includes:
- Donated $220,000 to the East Palestine Fire Department to replace Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) air packs, which allow firefighters to breathe compressed air when responding to fires.
- Provided more than 100 air purifiers for residents to use in their homes. Air purifiers are also being purchased for the East Palestine municipal building in coordination with the City Manager.
- Coordinated and funded cleaning and air monitoring services for the East Palestine Elementary and High Schools.
- Developing a charitable fund to support the East Palestine community. This goes well beyond an initial contribution of $25,000 to the Ohio Red Cross to support the shelter established at East Palestine High School.
Norfolk Southern has been closely coordinating with the Columbiana County Health District, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio EPA, and the U.S. EPA, as well as its own experts and contractors to monitor and mitigate environmental issues and concerns. All results are shared with the above agencies and include:
- Completed more than 340 in-home air tests in conjunction with U.S. EPA, with more than 100 additional tests scheduled. In-home air monitoring has not shown any detections of substances related to the incident and does not indicate a health risk.
- Thousands of data points have been collected during outdoor air monitoring in the community and continues to indicate no risk to health from incident-related substances.
- Sampled the Village of East Palestine’s drinking water supply wells, drinking water system, and private wells in areas potentially impacted by the incident. Sample results will be available in the next week.
- Established a Well Task Force to install monitoring points around the impacted waterways and incident site.
- Started excavating soil from the incident site and sampling the soil before safe disposal.
- Contacting residents on well water in the vicinity of the derailment to conduct water testing, which encompasses 38 wells. That testing will be done in conjunction with environmental and health agencies, and we will continue to work with them to identify other private drinking water wells for testing.
Residents who want air and water testing should contact the Residential Re-Entry Request Hotline at (330) 849-3919. If residents have further questions or concerns, they may call the CTEH Taggart Road Hotline at (234) 542-6474 to speak with a toxicologist.
Now that the evacuation order has been lifted, Norfolk Southern is working with local, state, and federal partners to provide assistance to East Palestine residents as they return home.
Norfolk Southern will continue to keep the Family Assistance Center open, with hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can also check here for information on voluntary in-home air monitoring.
Early this morning, Norfolk Southern and its contractors began clearing the site of derailed cars and continuing environmental remediation efforts. As of this afternoon, several cars have been cleared from the wreckage, and our team is continuing to clear the site. The National Transportation Safety Board will inspect the cars at a staging area, and once they are cleared, we will completely remove them from the area. Norfolk Southern is partnering with local and state officials to refine the remediation plan as necessary and working around the clock to clear the site. Air, soil, and water monitoring continues at the site of the incident and within the evacuation zone in coordination with state and federal agencies. Our Family Assistance Center (FAC) remains open for community members. We are also assisting local business owners with questions through the FAC, and when the evacuation concludes, representatives from Norfolk Southern plan to remain in the community to further assist residents and business owners.
Abundant Life Church
46469 State Route 46
New Waterford, OH
The controlled breach of several rail cars has been completed successfully under the supervision of experts and first responders. Some of the material is now burning off consistent with expectations from the earlier models, and is expected to drain for a short number of hours. We have been, and will continue, monitoring air quality with the Ohio EPA. Remediation work at the site can now safely continue.
On Sunday afternoon, during the monitoring of the derailed cars, it was found that the pressure relief devices on some of the cars had stopped working. If not addressed, it could result in a catastrophic failure of the cars.
In coordination among all agencies and stakeholders, we have put together a plan to manually vent the cars. The contents will be drained in a controlled fashion. To protect the environment, we have prepared pits and embankments to drain the material into which will then be remediated.
When it is safe to do so, the manual release of the pressure will be via a controlled breach of several rail cars, and under the supervision of experts and first responders. This will be loud and visible. Some of the material will burn off as it drains for a short number of hours. We have been and will continue monitoring air quality with Ohio EPA. Afterward, cleanup work on the site can safely continue.
Norfolk Southern team members are on scene, and will be assisted by multiple derailment and environmental contractors. In addition to working closely with first responders, we are coordinating with federal, state and local agencies. The NTSB will be the lead agency for providing updates on the incident. We have established a Family Assistance Center to address the needs of the community and support those directly impacted. Additionally, we are supporting the efforts of the American Red Cross and their temporary community shelters through a $25,000 donation.