Norfolk Southern Commits to Compensating East Palestine Homeowners for Property Value Losses

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw announced that Norfolk Southern Railroad will set up a fund to compensate East Palestine homeowners for losses in property value due to the catastrophic February 3rd train derailment that spilled hazardous chemicals into the community.

In a letter to U.S. Senators JD Vance (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Shaw (pictured above) said he would immediately launch the fund instead of waiting for litigation to end.

“Norfolk Southern has not waited for the judicial process to be completed prior to getting to work on the structure and shape of a real property fund that will compensate homeowners,” Shaw said.

Norfolk Southern faces a lawsuit from Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost over costs for the cleanup of the toxic chemical spill and environmental damage, even as they collaborate to establish funds for resident health care, property value issues, and water protections. The federal government is also suing the railroad.

Norfolk Southern is also facing a special investigation launched last month by the National Transportation Safety Board that it said will look into the company’s organization and safety.

On February 3rd, 50 train carriages, 10 of which were carrying hazardous materials, derailed as a result of a technical problem with a rail car axle, according to federal authorities. There was vinyl chloride in five of the vehicles. Hundreds of residents evacuated as a result of the controlled release of poisonous gasses that Norfolk Southern carried out on February 6th to stop an explosion.

Officials told East Palestine residents on February 8th that they could safely go home, despite the reports of hundreds of dead fish in the Ohio River near East Palestine and residents complaining of headaches and illness since the derailment.

Despite assurances from government officials that they are safe, many members of the community said they are fearful and nervous about their exposure to the chemicals and said they are concerned about the quality of the air and drinking water. Some residents have been living in hotels until they are convinced that their homes are safe.

Shaw stated that he anticipates they will utilize the fund to provide compensation to homeowners who sell their properties for less than the property’s before Febuary 3rd appraised worth and who live within a 5-mile radius of the derailment.

He said Norfolk Southern has already engaged Alvarez & Marsal to assess the regional real estate market and create a comprehensive plan.

According to Shaw, this commitment demonstrates that Norfolk Southern is continuing to make things right for the people of East Palestine and understands that this derailment was not the residents’ fault.

“I have been to the village and surrounding communities numerous times and I see that this is a strong and resilient population, but they are victims of this circumstance. Norfolk Southern understands that any diminution of the value of East Palestine homes as a result of the derailment is a significant potential harm to homeowners and a strong consideration of the suit filed by Attorney General Yost as well as the recently consolidated putative class action,” Shaw said.

Cruz states this is “major progress for ensuring justice for the homes and the families injured by that horrific derailment.”

The announcement follows the Senate Commerce Committee approving the Bipartisan Railway Safety Act, sponsored by Vance and Brown which is aimed to prevent future train disasters.

The Railway Safety Act would require that trains carrying hazardous materials be scanned by wayside defect detectors, or “hotbox detectors,” every 10 miles to prevent future derailments caused by faulty wheel bearings. It stipulates that railroad companies must provide advance notification to state emergency response commissions when transporting hazardous materials. It requires railroads to operate with at least two-person crews. It also increases the maximum fine for rail safety violations.

Shaw has expressed support for some additional rail safety measures since the derailment but has shown resistance to others, including legislation requiring twoperson rail crews.

The committee approved the legislation 16-11. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

– – –

Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Alan Shaw” by Norfolk Southern Corp. Background Photo “East Palestine, Ohio” by 636Buster. CC BY-SA 4.0.





Related posts

One Thought to “Norfolk Southern Commits to Compensating East Palestine Homeowners for Property Value Losses”

  1. Joey

    What price is going to be paid for destroying your life, property, & health?