NS Reaches East Palestine Clean-Up Milestone

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor, Railway Age
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“We have reached a milestone cleaning up the site in East Palestine safely, thoroughly and with urgency. @EPA-approved testing confirms all impacted soil has been removed from the south track,” NS reported via Twitter on April 15. (Screen-Capture Courtesy of NS video, via Twitter)

Norfolk Southern (NS) on April 15, nearly two-and-a-half months after the Feb. 3 East Palestine, Ohio derailment, announced that it has completed excavation of the impacted soil beneath the removed south track, and will finish “in the coming days” track restoration to make way for work to begin at the north track.

“We are making progress every day on our commitment to clean up the derailment site and make it right for the community of East Palestine,” NS President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said. “Today [April 15] marks a major milestone in the remediation process, and we will not stop until the job is done safely and thoroughly.”

NS in February reported plans to temporarily remove the set of tracks at the derailment site and excavate the soil beneath, after hearing from the community.

According to the Class I railroad, the section of south track is now being reinstalled after testing—“using a U.S. EPA-approved protocol”—confirmed the impacted soil under the removed track has been excavated. NS noted that it continues “to work closely with the community and the East Palestine Train Derailment Unified Command to complete all remediation efforts at the site and in the surrounding community.”

Remediation work on the north track is expected to begin next week. “For a brief period, trains may run on both tracks to ensure the replaced track properly settles and is safe for normal train traffic,” NS said. “Traffic will stop on the north track to continue remediation work, including removing impacted soil and water and conducting daily environmental monitoring.”

The railroad reported that testing “continues to show the air and water are safe, and remediation efforts are ongoing both at the derailment site and in the surrounding area.” Additionally, it said it has rerouted Sulphur Run around the derailment site and continues downstream testing; any contaminated sections are undergoing remediation.

To date, more than 25,000 tons of soil has been excavated and transported off-site for “proper disposal” and 12 million-plus gallons of impacted water has been removed and transported off-site, according to NS, which noted that all of its site work “has been performed in accordance with widely accepted environmental practices and under the supervision of the U.S. EPA, Ohio EPA, and other agencies in Unified Command.”