In the two months since a Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, federal agencies have collected more than 9,000 tons of contaminated soil, shipped more than 8 million gallons of contaminated wastewater, conducted 623 indoor air screenings and sued one rail company.
In a March 28 update, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has overseen soil testing, removal and the backfilling of soil at the derailment site. Excavated areas are "repeatedly tested and soil is continually removed until testing shows levels that are protective of groundwater."
The Feb. 3 derailment of more than 30 freight cars — including cars hauling PVC feedstock vinyl chloride monomer — prompted the release of VCM gas to avoid an explosion. State and federal officials have continued monitoring air, water and soil quality since then.
On March 30, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a news release stating it had filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern on behalf of the EPA for damages related to alleged Clean Water Act violation.
The suit seeks to hold the rail carrier "accountable for unlawfully polluting the nation's waterways and to ensure it pays the full cost of the environmental cleanup," Reuters reports.