NATIONAL NEWS

Norfolk Southern to end relocation aid right after one-year anniversary of its fiery Ohio derailment

Dec 6, 2023, 2:41 PM

Norfolk Southern railroad plans to stop paying relocation aid to people displaced by last February’s fiery derailment in eastern Ohio right after the one-year anniversary of the crash.

Railroad officials announced the change this week as they reiterated their long-term commitment to helping the town of East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding area near the Pennsylvania border recover. Norfolk Southern has committed more than $103 million in aid to the area, including nearly $21 million paid out directly to residents whose lives were upended by the derailment.

When the train careened off the tracks on the night of Feb. 3, several tank cars filled with hazardous chemicals ruptured and their contents caught fire. Then a few days later officials blew open five more tank cars to keep them from exploding. The chemical spill left residents with lingering health worries about potential long-term effects.

With the completion of soil removal from the derailment site in October, the Atlanta-based railroad decided it was time to stop paying the expenses of people who still haven’t returned to their homes. A Norfolk Southern spokesman said fewer than 100 households are still receiving that aid because most residents have already returned to East Palestine.

“This program was always a temporary one for those residents who chose to relocate during the site remediation process,” spokesman Tom Crosson said.

The move to end relocation aid, which will take effect Feb. 9, had been rumored for months. But the decision still angered some residents like Jami Wallace, who posted online “Thank you NS for flipping another bird at residents.”

“It’s truly bad timing,” Wallace said in a message to The Associated Press. “Most were financially devastated by the derailment. It’s already a financially stressful time of year and now to worry about where you are going to live.”

The railroad is offering to pay to clean the homes of anyone who hasn’t returned home yet as long as they didn’t already take advantage of a similar program earlier. And for residents who decided to move, Norfolk Southern has offered to compensate them for any lost value in their homes as long as they agree to give up any other property damage claims against the railroad.

Norfolk Southern has estimated that its response to the derailment has already cost nearly $1 billion and that total will only grow as the cleanup continues, three funds it has committed to create are finalized and various lawsuits are addressed. But the railroad will get compensation from its insurers and likely other companies involved in the derailment to offset some of that cost.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said he knows there is still more work to do in East Palestine, but he is proud of the progress that has been made since the derailment.

“We’ll continue keeping our promises and listening to the community,” Shaw said. “Together, we’re focused on economic development to help the East Palestine community thrive for the long term.”

National News

Associated Press

More severe weather forecast in Midwest as Iowa residents clean up tornado damage

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — The skies were blue and the wind was blowing as residents of the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, worked to clean up two days after a destructive tornado ripped apart more than 100 homes in just one minute, took the lives of four residents and injured at least 35 more. All […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Ohio governor calls special session to pass legislation ensuring President Biden is on 2024 ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that he is calling a special session of the General Assembly next week to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden is on the state’s 2024 ballot. “Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting President of the United States, on […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. California’s law is meant to circumvent an Arizona law — first passed in 1864 — that bans nearly all abortions in that state. The Arizona Supreme Court had ruled that […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge says $475,000 award in New Hampshire youth center abuse case would be ‘miscarriage of justice’

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The judge who oversaw a landmark trial over abuse at New Hampshire’s youth detention center says capping the verdict at $475,000 as the state proposes would be an “unconscionable miscarriage of justice.” In a lengthy order issued Wednesday, Judge Andrew Schulman outlined five options for addressing the dispute that arose after […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Those who helped file voting fraud allegations are protected from suit, North Carolina justices say

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court on Thursday threw out a defamation lawsuit against attorneys who assisted voters with submitting some 2016 ballot complaints, saying the fraud allegations they helped make were broadly protected within the protest process. The 5-0 ruling overturns the decision of a lower appeals court that determined only […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northern Arizona man was convicted in a jury trial Thursday of first-degree murder and other crimes in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son. Authorities say the boy was locked in a tiny bedroom closet for 16 hours a day over a month with his older brother as punishment […]

11 hours ago

Norfolk Southern to end relocation aid right after one-year anniversary of its fiery Ohio derailment