Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’

U.S. EPA Sues NS over East Palestine Derailment

April 3, 2023

The federal government is suing Norfolk Southern over the Feb. 3 derailment at East Palestine.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency by the U.S. Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District  of Ohio.

The suit alleges that NS violated the Clean Water Act. It is similar to a lawsuit filed against NS by the State of Ohio.

U.S. EPA is seeking to force NS to pay the full costs of the environmental cleanup and claims the railroad unlawfully polluted waterways.

The carrier would be subject to penalties of $64,618 per day per violation of federal law and of $55,808 per day or $2,232 per barrel of oil or unit of hazardous substance for discharge of oil or hazardous substances into waterways.

Another objective of the lawsuit is to obtain an order to NS “to remedy, mitigate, and offset the harm to public health and the environment” caused by those violations.

In a related development, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said NS has agreed to hire Ohio companies as part of the cleanup operation in East Palestine.

Yost said that agreement will not affect the state’s lawsuit against NS stemming from the derailment.

Cleanup of Derailment Site Resumed

February 28, 2023

Work resumed on Monday cleaning up the site of a Norfolk Southern derailment after federal regulators ordered the cleanup temporarily halted.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the order after hearing concerns expressed by residents of East Palestine, where the Feb. 3 derailment occurred, and from residents of locations where contaminated soil  and water was being shipped.

The EPA said waste from the derailment site will be moved to EPA-certified sites in Ohio.

Federal environmental regulators will review the transport of some of this waste over long distances and seek certified sites to take waste. Some waste had been taken to sites in Texas and Michigan.

In related developments, NS has paid $825,000 to the East Palestine Fire Department approximately to replace equipment used in the derailment response.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources now estimates that more than 43,000 fish and other forms of aquatic life were killed as a result of the derailment.

That includes more than 38,000 minnows and about 5,500 other species, such as crayfish and amphibians located within 5 miles of the derailment site that were killed within 24 hours of the incident.

Since then Ohio officials said, there have been no signs of fish in distress within the affected area.

EPA Orders NS to Cleanup Derailment Site

February 23, 2023

Norfolk Southern was ordered this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to pay the agency for all of its costs incurred in cleaning up the site of a Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine that involved the release of hazardous chemicals.

The EPA order also directed NS to create a plan outlining all steps necessary to address the environmental effects of the derailment.

The Class 1 railroad was ordered to conduct cleanup and remediation actions at the site.

“If the company fails to complete any actions as ordered  . . . the agency will immediately step in, conduct the necessary work, and then seek to compel Norfolk Southern to pay triple the cost,” EPA officials said in a news release.

NS has said it has thus far paid or committed to pay $6.5 million to East Palestine as part of its efforts to mitigate the effects of the derailment.

Town Hall Meeting Set in East Palestine

February 14, 2023

Residents of East Palestine who have concerns about lingering health issues in the wake of a Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment will get a chance on Wednesday to discuss those.

The community of 4,800 on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border will conduct a 7 p.m. town hall meeting at the East Palestine high school at which time attendees can ask questions of railroad and health agency officials.

“This will be an opportunity for East Palestine residents and those in surrounding areas for question and answer,” Mayor Trent Conaway said in a news release.

The derailment created massive fires and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents within a mile radius of the derailment site due to a health threat posed by leaking hazardous materials.

On Monday news reports indicated the train that derailed was carrying hazardous materials that had previously not been disclosed.

The additional chemicals released into the air and soil included ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene.

Other substances known to have been carried by the train included vinyl chloride, phosgene and hydrogen chloride.

Reports have been emerging about animals becoming ill and dying in the wake of the derailment and a controlled release of hazardous materials to prevent a potential explosion.

One woman said her chickens died after a controlled burn of chemicals took place.

News reports said resident of East Palestine have reported a strong odor remaining in their community and experiencing a burning sensation in their eyes.

Several residents have filed lawsuits against NS in the days following the derailment alleging negligence on the part of the Class 1 railroad.

Some of the plaintiffs are seeking a court-supervised medical screenings for anyone within a 30-mile radius of the derailment for serious illnesses that may be caused by exposure to those chemicals.

Environmental officials have said the air quality in East Palestine is safe as is the town’s drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has been monitoring air quality and has yet to detect “any levels of concern” in East Palestine as of Sunday.

Environmental officials have checked air and water quality in the homes of residents in a voluntary program.

Some of the substances shown on a list of the train’s cargo that was compiled by NS and released by the EPA show chemicals that can cause headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems. Some chemicals can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

The Columbiana County Health Department has advised residents to contact their medical provider if they experience symptoms.

WKYC-TV of Cleveland reported that the EPA has told NS that that federal law may make it liable for cleanup of the derailment site.

The agency sent NS a General Notice of Potential Liability that said the railroad may be responsible for the EPA’s costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the release of “hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

East Palestine police said a group may be going to homes in town to notify residents that their drinking water may be at risk. The group includes contractors working for NS who will provide tests.

Police also warned of scammers going door-to-door claiming to be from NS and gathering information to offer financial help.

NS has said that the only assistance it is providing is coming from officials an assistance center that it has established in New Waterford.

G&W Agrees to Consent Decree on Loco Emissions

January 27, 2023

Short line holding company Genesee & Wyoming has agreed pay up to $42 million to settle an environmental complaint brought by the federal government.

G&W was accused by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Air Act by operating rebuilt locomotives that failed to meet emissions standards.

The complaint also charged G&W with failure to perform emissions-related maintenance or keep maintenance records.

EPA officials said in a news release that the settlement with G&W is expected to reduce tons of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution and improve air quality.

The dispute began in 2018 after G&W owned railroads failed to upgrade 11 of 885 locomotives to the appropriate emission standards. G&W characterized that in a statement as having been an inadvertent oversight.

The statement said the consist decree G&W agreed to will provide environmental benefits “that significantly exceed any adverse impact associated with the violations alleged by the government.”

In rebuilding the locomotives in question, G&W agreed to use the latest technology to reduce emissions; to ensure it does not purchase or sell locomotives that have been rebuilt without conforming to emissions standards; to remove from service and destroy 88 older locomotives not required to meet EPA emission standards; to replace scrapped locomotives only with units subject to and meeting EPA emissions standards; and to pay a $1.35 million civil penalty.

EPA Eyes Stricter Locomotive Emission Rules

November 11, 2022

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is eyeing promulgating stricter regulations for locomotive regulations.

The agency has formed a study group to examine options and recommendations for possible new regulations that would seek to cut emissions from locomotives.

Higher standards are being sought from the EPA by the California Air Resource Board, which has cited complaints from workers and those who live near railroad yards and ports of respiratory illness and premature death caused by locomotive emissions.

The existing EPA locomotive emission standards, known as Tier 4 regulations, were created in 2008.

Although Class 1 railroad motive fleets include Tier 4 compliant locomotives, many carriers continue to rely on older locomotives, although some older units have been rebuilt to reduce emissions.

However, these rebuilt locomotives do not need to meet Tier 4 standards.

Class 1 railroads have pruned the size of their motive power fleets in response to the adoption of the precision scheduled railroading operating model, which relies on fewer and longer trains.

In 2021 U.S. Class 1 railroads ordered no new locomotives and in 2020 they ordered just 94 units.

A report posted on the website of Trains magazine observed that locomotive builders believe the future of railroad motive power lies more with such technology as batteries, battery-diesel hybrids, and hydrogen fuel cells than it does with diesel power alone.

2 Pennsylvania Short Lines Join EPA Program

March 18, 2022

Two Pennsylvania short line railroads have joined in the SmartWay program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The railroads are East Penn Railroad, which operates 110 miles of track southeastern Pennsylvania, and Tyburn Railroad, which operates a transloading facility and terminal switching operation in Morrisville.

The SmartWay program collects efficiency and air quality data from its member railroads and aggregates that information in five ranked performance ranges.

In a news release, program officials described their mission as providing “a comprehensive and well-recognized system for tracking, documenting and sharing information about fuel use and freight emissions across supply chains.”

The program also said it helps “companies identify and select more efficient freight carriers, transport modes, equipment, and operational strategies to improve supply chain sustainability and lower costs from goods movement; and supports global energy security and offsets environmental risk for companies and countries.”

SmartWay has nearly 4,000 members, which include shippers; logistics companies; and truck, rail, barge and multimodal carriers.

EPA Studies Chemicals for Transit Disinfecting

July 10, 2020

Researchers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are studying a number of commercially available products that could be used to disinfect trains and stations long term against the COVID-19 virus.

The EPA Office of Research and Development Center for Environmental Solutions and Emergency Response is conducting the research, using the surfaces that mimic the high touch point on mass transit trains and stations, EPA officials said in a news release.

The agency is working with transit officials in New York to evaluate anti-microbial products to determine their ability to provide effective antivirus protection over time.

Currently, EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting effectiveness are limited to those that control odor-causing bacteria on hard, nonporous surfaces. There are no EPA-registered products that claim long-lasting disinfection.

The benefit of longer-lasting antimicrobial product is the reduced need to clean and disinfect a surface or object every time after someone new touches it, EPA officials said.

EPA officials said transit agencies around the country currently are using multple step cleaning and disinfection processes, but would greatly benefit from a product that had long-lasting capabilities.

In addition, EPA researchers are also evaluating other high-efficiency alternative methods to disinfect, such as ultraviolet light, ozone and steam that could be used on public transit systems to keep trains, buses and facilities clean and safe for passengers. They are also studying disinfectant application methods such as electrostatic sprayers or foggers.

CSX Hit With $2.2M in Fines for Oil Spill, Fire

July 27, 2018

CSX is expected to pay $2.2 million in penalties to settle an action stemming from a 2015 derailment and subsequent oil spill.

The railroad would pay $1.2 million to the federal government and $1 million to the State of West Virginia to settle water pollution violations.

In a state-negotiated agreement, CSX will pay $500,000 to a state-administered fund to upgrade a water treatment facility in Fayette County, West Virginia.

The federal agencies involved in the case were the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.

The derailment occurred on Feb. 16, 2015, at Mount Carbon, West Virginia, when 27 cars of a CSX train with 109 rail cars carrying crude oil derailed. The train carried 29,000 gallons of Bakken crude and about half of the cars ignited.

Some of the oil flowed into the Kanawha River and Armstrong Creek.

The explosions and fires destroyed an adjacent home and garage. A local state of emergency was declared, nearby water intakes were shut down and area residents were evacuated.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. CSX officials declined to comment on the settlement.

CN Getting 25 Units it Can’t Use in U.S. Service

April 10, 2015

If you see a Canadian National locomotive numbered in the 2951 to 2975 series in the United States, be sure to photograph it.

That’s because if one of those locomotives operates in revenue service the U.S. it will be doing so in violation of federal law.

The 25 locomotives in the 2951 to 2975 series were built by GE as “export” ES44AC units. They do not meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emissions standards that took effect on Jan. 1 for new locomotives built after that date.

If CN uses one of these non-compliant locomotives, it would face fines from the U.S. government.

CN plans to assign the locomotives to Prince George, B.C., which would minimize the risk of placing them in trains headed across the border.

Earlier, CN received 26 ES44ACs from GE that are U.S. EPA emissions-compliant and plans to receive an additional 39 ES44ACs later in 2015 after Tier 4 locomotive production begins.