The Lead

Norfolk Southern pays $1 million to Pennsylvania communities for relief after train derailment

By: - July 24, 2023 12:30 pm
Aerial view of the train derailment wreckage in East Palestine. (Screenshot from NTSB B-roll recorded Feb. 5, 2023)

Aerial view of the train derailment wreckage in East Palestine, Ohio, Feb. 5, 2023. (NTSB).

More than five months after a train derailed along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, western communities affected by the fiery wreck have received financial support from the railroad company to help with relief.

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Monday morning that Norfolk Southern Corporation has sent $660,000 to Darlington Township and $340,000 to Lawrence County, totaling $1 million from the company as part of a multimillion commitment from Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw to provide support to those affected by the crash.

Just under 5,000 people live near the derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio. In the weeks after the crash, the Pennsylvania Department of Health connected hundreds of residents with services at a health center for Beaver and Lawrence counties. The most sought assistance included air and water testing, medical evaluations, and general public health information.

Local officials will determine how communities use the funding.

“To the residents of Darlington Township, know this is not a settlement, but a small step forward,” Darlington Township Board of Supervisors Chairperson Mike Carreon said. We continue in discussions with Norfolk Southern in an effort to address both our short- and long-term concerns.”

Lawrence County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Dan Vogler said the funds will be earmarked for municipalities closest to the wreck and an agency to assist those throughout the county who may have been affected.

In March, Norfolk Southern completed $1 million in reimbursements to replace damaged equipment for Pennsylvania emergency personnel who responded to the derailment.

Officials ordered residents near the derailment site to evacuate while the company released hazardous materials carried by five rail cars to avoid a possible explosion. State leaders said that testing indicated no water or air contamination, but community members complained about feeling sick after returning home.

“We will continue to follow through on our promises and support the people and communities that have been impacted,” Shapiro said. “This critical funding will help Darlington Township and Lawrence County build back better than before, and my administration will continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts on our commonwealth.”

Shaw previously testified before the state Senate Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, pledging to help communities recover “as long as it takes.” Norfolk Southern also launched the Family Assistance Center to help those affected by the crash.

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