News & Reviews News Wire Ohio governor says he expects Norfolk Southern to pay for costs of derailment and fire

Ohio governor says he expects Norfolk Southern to pay for costs of derailment and fire

By Trains Staff | February 7, 2023

| Last updated on February 6, 2024

Controlled release of chemicals was delayed when trespassers breached perimeter, governor says in interview

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Man gestures at video screen
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine points out the evacuation zone during a Monday briefing on the East Palestine derailment. DeWine said today he expects Norfolk Southern to pay the costs of the incident. Office of Gov. Mike DeWine via Twitter

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said today (Tuesday, Feb. 7) that he expects Norfolk Southern to pay for the costs related to the derailment and fire in the community on the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line.

“They’re the ones who created the problem,” DeWine said in a report by the Wheeling (W.Va.) Intelligencer. “It’s their liability. They’re the ones who ought to pay for it.”

DeWine said Monday’s controlled release, in which a small charge was used to blow a hole in tank cars containing vinyl chloride, which was then drained and burned off, was selected from “two not-so-great choices” presented by the railroad, the other being to just wait out the situation. That became too risky because of the instability of at least one of the cars, so the choice was made to proceed with the controlled release.

But that process was delayed by about an hour because people in two vehicles breached the perimeter around area almost immediately after authorities finished clearing it, DeWine said,. He called that “unbelievable,” but added,

CNN reports the cars carrying vinyl chloride are no longer burning, according to Norfolk Southern’s Scott Deutsch, who also said four of the tank cars involved had been cleared from the accident site and were being inspected . But air- and water-quality monitoring continues to determine if it is safe to lift the evacuation order extending in a 1-mile radius from the site of Friday’s 50-car derailment. East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabeck said the order will remain in place until the Ohio Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and NS determine it is safe for residents to return, WMFJ-TV reports. reports DeWine and members of his administration are discussing whether they need to take more action regarding the condition of the state’s rail network . While noting that rail regulation is primarily a federal responsibility, he said a situation like the one resulting from Friday’s derailment in East Palestine “certainly grabs your attention.

“We need to figure out what the problem was. And we need to understand it,” DeWine told and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “This is a state where a lot of railroads go through, and some of them are carrying some highly combustible and dangerous products. We need to make sure it’s as safe as we can make it.”

11 thoughts on “Ohio governor says he expects Norfolk Southern to pay for costs of derailment and fire

  1. Reply to Andy S….I never said in my post that a vehicle was involved…if you read my post slower, you will see that I said an earlier report stated that the derailment happened at a highway crossing…which does leave a possibility whether remote or not, of something such as a vehicle striking the train…mindless….I think I stated that there was some sarcasm in my statement intended.

  2. The site is still burning, the cause is still not set in stone, the town and area is a major mess, so far, there have not been any deaths or major injuries, and the governor is worried that the railroad might not pay for the disaster? Who votes these kind of mindless people in office anyway? The fact that it happened according to previous reports at a highway crossing does present the possibility that a motor vehicle could have hit the train….nothing is ruled out as of yet. Rest assured Mr. DeWine, NS will take care of their share of responsibility when the cards are all sorted out. If he is so worried, I say to him” better call Saul”…(sarcasm intended).

    1. Steven: ‘Mindless’? Really? You make that assessment based upon one out of context quote reprinted from another source, which conceivably been in response to the question of who was going to pay? Also, there’s video which shows a bearing failing and a detector indicating the same just before the accident. Are you aware of any authorities discussing motor vehicle involvement, which, if it were the case, should be well known at this point?

  3. If memory serves me right, in a previous article, NTSB suspected a broken axle.. That same article also stated a defect detector announced a defect just before the derailment occurred. Several things to look at here with one of them being the very low temperature that night. At first I thought a broken rail until reading about the detector. Depending on what the detector stated would influence how the crew would respond. It’s possible the train was already on the ground or in the process of going on the ground at the detector.It takes time to stop a train that size and I would suspect the train, at best was only doing maybe 45 as to the east of the town is down grade and many curves. Sometimes it’s just a case of something going bad and nothing anyone did caused it.

  4. There are just as many tanker trucks on the road that carry hazardous materials, if not more and who knows what else travels up and down the roads in his state (the governor) and across this country every single day. Yeah when a train derails it’s usually bad and it gets so much coverage.

    It’s like when planes crash. They are the safest form of travel but when they crash there are so many injuries or deaths and it gets over sensationalized that it doesn’t seem like it. I’m sure the governor will try some form of sweeping changes for the railroad but it doesn’t matter that he can’t do anything about it for the most part.

  5. The railroads have no choice, they by law have to carry hazardous materials. Maybe shorter trains would help.

  6. Question for readers more kowledgable than I am. (That’s most of you.) Being that the great majority of freight cars, including all chemical tankers, are privately owned, who is responsible for hot boxes?

    1. Charles – Putting aside the “Sue everyone and see what sticks to the wall” theory of lawsuits, the railroad would not, in theory, accept a car for movement without it passing inspection for a multitude of items, and once on line, the railroad handles the COT&S of the bearings, not the owner, and repair or replacement of hoses, knuckles, etc., so I’d place responsibility on the railroad, unless some hidden defect is discovered that couldn’t have been identified on acceptance. Then we’ll see what the jury or court or administrative body thinks.

    2. It’s the railroads responsibility to inspect every car for defects. Most of the more active yards on NS and some of the smaller ones like the yard here in Crewe have car inspectors to inspect trains that originate/terminate there and will have a shop track to do RIP repairs. If they find a car in need of repair they will ‘bad order’ it and notify the yardmaster so the yard crew can set it out to be repaired.

You must login to submit a comment