The state of Ohio is suing Norfolk Southern over the company’s train derailment in East Palestine last month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Tuesday.
“This derailment was entirely avoidable,” Yost said at a press briefing Tuesday, “and I’m concerned that Norfolk Southern may be putting profits for their own company above the health and safety of the cities and communities that they operate in.”
The 58-count complaint, filed in federal court, is the latest demand for accountability from a company that has been accused of prioritizing profits over safety, a systemic effort that laid the groundwork for the February 3 derailment that released toxic chemicals throughout surrounding communities near the Pennsylvania border.
Yost’s lawsuit asks Norfolk Southern to cover costs associated with the emergency response, ongoing environmental cleanup, and property damage. Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating the company’s safety practices.
That Yost—a Republican who used coronavirus lockdowns as a pretense to halt abortions and suggested that the media was lying about a 10-year-old rape victim who had to travel out of state for an abortion—is leading the lawsuit against Norfolk Southern makes it an even bigger deal. Last week’s bipartisan grilling of Norfolk Southern’s CEO showed that members of both parties seem willing to take the railroad industry to task. That’s a marked change from the Senate’s decision to override the will of railroad unions late last year. Maybe a catastrophic chemical spill is all it takes to spark some change.