Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro has secured an initial commitment from Norfolk Southern to pay for damages to the Commonwealth and its residents resulting from the February 3 train derailment that impacted Beaver and Lawrence Counties.
Shapiro called upon Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw to cover the entirety of the costs incurred by PA agencies and local fire departments that responded to the derailment, as well as set up a $1 million community relief fund for businesses and residents in Beaver and Lawrence counties who lost revenue as a result of the incident.
Shapiro stressed that he will continue to push Norfolk Southern for further accountability and to cover additional costs that may accrue.
“Norfolk Southern’s train derailment has hurt communities in Western Pennsylvania, and to make matters worse, the company’s disregard for crisis management best practices injected unnecessary risk into the situation and created confusion for residents and first responders,” he said. “Norfolk Southern must do better – and the entire cost of this derailment and its impact on the Commonwealth must be picked up by them, not the people of Pennsylvania.”
Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay nearly $7.7 million, including:
- $5M to reimburse fire departments that need to replace contaminated or damaged equipment that was used in responding to the derailment
- $1M for a Community Relief Fund for officials in Beaver and Lawrence Counties to support business owners and residents impacted.
- $950,000 to cover Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection work in western Pennsylvania.
- $400,000 for Pennsylvania Department of Health services.
- $300,000 to cover staff time for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency since the Commonwealth Response Coordination Center was activated.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the opening of a Health Resource Center in Darlington Township, Beaver County for residents of Beaver and Lawrence counties who have health concerns; the center will be open 10 AM to 8 PM through Friday, March 10.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture are also on hand at the Center to help interested residents sign up for free, independent water testing and to provide guidance on food and animal safety, respectively. DEP is conducting independent water sampling to monitor water contamination risks. So far, DEP has successfully collected samples from nearly every private drinking water well within one mile of the Norfolk Southern derailment site and expects to receive results in the coming days.
Pennsylvania continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following this incident. Air and water monitoring have been in place since the incident began and no concerning readings have been detected thus far.
Looking like stopping the train for new wheel bearings would have been cheaper. Make the RR pay, Josh.