Norfolk Southern finally agrees to pay East Palestine residents' relocation costs during toxic chemical cleanup

Norfolk Southern said in a statement that residents "may notice additional odors" as their work continues.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced in a statement on Monday that thousands of residents in East Palestine, Ohio and surrounding areas in neighboring Pennsylvania who have been affected by the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying vinyl chloride will be able to relocate at no cost until crews clean up the toxic chemical.

The statement from the EPA website states “As soil work continues at Norfolk Southern’s derailment site, some residents close to the derailment site may notice additional odors. At EPA’s request, Norfolk Southern has agreed to provide additional financial assistance to residents of the East Palestine area, including the portions of Pennsylvania within a mile of the derailment site. This assistance may include temporary lodging, travel, food, clothing, and other necessities."

One resident, however, says that she has had difficulty relocating due to her three large dogs, and said that moving farther away would lead to challenges in her work and school life. Another, who lives 1.5 miles from the derailment, said that she was offered $500 per week by the company when she visited the assistance center on Monday, but said that her housing alone would cost over $2,000 a month. She too had large dogs as pets, according to WESA FM.

The relocation is voluntary, and Norfolk Southern will continue to pay expenses while the soil removal and transportation work is ongoing. 

The EPA email says residents will not have to sign a waiver or release of liability to receive support. Remediation work is expected to last one to two months, depending on the weather and potential delays. 

Norfolk Southern said in a statement that residents "may notice additional odors" as their work continues. "We have deployed additional air monitors, which now number 11, to the perimeter of the work area to ensure continued monitoring of air quality between the work area and community," they told WESA FM.

Residents who wish to move during the cleanup are encouraged to contact the Norfolk Southern resource hotline at 800-230-7049 or visit the Family Assistance Center at Abundant Life Church in New Waterford, Ohio. 

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