East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit | Train Carrying Toxic Chemicals Derails in East Palestine, Ohio [2023]

Contact us for a free consultation if you or your family has been impacted by the East Palestine/Norfolk Southern Train Derailment.

East Palestine Train Derailment Overview

On February 3rd, 2023, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

The derailment spread a slew of hazardous materials into the air and across the derailment site, seeping into waterways and into groundwater.

Our law firm is investigating potential litigation against Norfolk Southern Railroad Company and any other parties responsible for the train derailment and environmental contamination.

It is imperative that you do NOT accept money or payments from Norfolk Southern that rely upon a release of your legal claims and rights.

April 2023 Update: Lead counsel for the lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railroad Company for the East Palestine Train Derailment have been appointed. This is a major step to holding all parties responsible for the trail derailment and subsequent chemical contamination. 

Visit this page for more updates as they become available. 

East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit, East Palestine Ohio Train Derailment, Ohio Train Accident

It’s important that Norfolk Southern is held liable for all potential damages they’re responsible for, and accepting a settlement that waives your right to future litigation may impact the compensation you are entitled to.

If you or a loved one was impacted by the East Palestine Train Derailment, you may be eligible to file a legal claim.

Contact TorHoerman Law for more information and a free consultation. Our law firm is not afraid to take on large corporations and corporate wrong-doers.

We’ve secured over $4 billion in compensation for people harmed at no fault of their own, and we’re prepared to help you.

Visit this page for more updates on the East Palestine Train Derailment and its aftermath as the story develops.

Table of Contents

East Palestine Train Derailment: What Happened?

On February 3rd, 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

The train derailment ignited a fire and shot a plume of smoke over the town of East Palestine. Local authorities decided to conduct a controlled burn after residents were evacuated, sending hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air.

Residents reported a burning sensation in their eyes, and returned to their homes to find pets and farm animals dead.

Traveling from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania, the train consisted of 141 load cars, nine empty cars, and three locomotives. About 50 cars derailed, at least ten of them carrying hazardous materials. Five tanker cars that derailed were carrying vinyl chloride.

The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that mechanical issues on a railcar axle caused the derailment.

What Toxic Chemicals Were on the Train that Derailed in East Palestine, Ohio?

At least five tanker cars that derailed were carrying vinyl chloride. Exposure to Vinyl chloride, a main chemical spilled and burned at the East Palestine derailment, has been associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma), primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.

According to reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and a document provided by Norfolk Southern, the train was carrying the following chemicals:

  • Vinyl chloride
  • Benzene
  • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether
  • Ethylhexyl acrylate
  • Isobutylene
  • Polyethylene
  • Residue lube oil
  • Dipropolyne Glycol
  • Propelyne Glycol
  • Diethylene Glycol
  • Semolina
  • Polyvinyl (likely plastic pellets)
  • Petroleum lube oil
  • Petroleum oil
  • Potentially other dangerous chemicals

Train cars 28-31, and 55 were carrying Vinyl Chloride. Three train cars carrying Diethylene Glycol were involved in the accident, with one spilling and two leaking.

The classes of tanker cars used on the Norfolk Southern train can carry tens of thousands of gallons of product. The carrying capacity of tankers that were spilled, burned or damaged were between 18,000 gallon and 30,000 gallons.

Although not all chemicals involved in the disaster were extremely toxic, the prospect of over 10,000 gallons of man-made chemicals spilling or being burned is not good.

Emergency Response and Aftermath of the East Palestine Train Derailment

The US EPA and the Ohio EPA lead the cleanup and investigation of the train derailment site. Several agencies have been testing the air and water in East Palestine for volatile organic compounds and the other chemicals involved in the derailment.

In the notice of potential liability sent to Norfolk Southern, the EPA noted that several waterways were impacted by the derailment including Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and the Ohio River. The letter also stated that contaminated materials were also seen entering storm drains.

The EPA mentioned also that contaminated soil was potentially moved and covered during the controlled burn:

Areas of contaminated soil and free liquids were observed and potentially covered and/or filled during reconstruction of the rail line including portions of the trench /burn pit that was used for the open burn off of vinyl chloride.

Air Quality, Water and Soil Testing

Environmental regulators have said that they are continually testing the air quality, water samples, and attempting to assess remaining hazards. In a form of self-regulation, Norfolk Southern is conducting home testing for residents through independent contractor, aided by the EPA.

The US EPA is conducting air quality testing and water testing, and has said that state agencies are monitoring the Ohio River. The EPA has not released water test results since February 4th, and has not released soil tests at all.

In a February 14th statement, EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore said:

EPA Region 5 is also working closely with Ohio EPA to determine what impact the spill has had on surface and ground water. State and local agencies are conducting sampling throughout the Ohio River to ensure drinking water intakes aren’t affected, and EPA is continuing to assist the state with sampling efforts at water treatment intake points along the Ohio River.

East Palestine Residents and Others are Hesitant to Return Home

On February 8th, 2023, just five days after the train derailment, Ohio and Pennsylvania officials announced that East Palestine residents and others who were evacuated may return to their homes.

Many residents of the Ohio village and surrounding communities have been hesitant to return to their homes after the evacuation order was lifted. Water wells are heavily used for drinking water supplies in the area, and it’s suspected that it may not be as safe as the regulatory agencies suggest.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the chemical contamination has reportedly affected an estimated 7.5 miles of streams and killed more than 3,500 fish. People are concerned that these estimates are lower than the true environmental impact and the resulting potential health implications.

Norfolk Southern and local and state authorities insist the water is safe to drink and creeks are free from toxic chemicals, but residents are hesitant to believe officials as they’ve returned home to dead farm animals, sick animals in a sanctuary, and dead fish in local waterways.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which considers vinyl chloride a carcinogen, said in a letter released on Friday February 10th that chemicals “Cars containing vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether are known to have been and continue to be released to the air, surface soils, and surface waters.”

The letter is a general notice of potential liability, outlining “EPA cleanup actions at the site and the potential to hold the railroad accountable for associated costs.”

Citizens Post Across Social Media About the Train Derailment and Chemical Contamination

Locals of the East Palestine area in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have been documenting the environmental and health hazards of the Norfolk Southern derailment.

Though not all of these reports have been corroborated by verified news agencies, we feel their experiences are too important not to be shared:

Lawsuit Filed Thursday Feb. 9 Against Norfolk Southern

Two Pennsylvania residents filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, requesting that the company pay for medical screenings of all residents within a thirty mile radius. The lawsuit is also seeking undetermined damages.

When asked about the lawsuit, Norfolk Southern declined to comment.

The lawsuit filed against rail operator Norfolk Southern is the first legal action taken against the company. As more is discovered about the event and further contamination, more lawsuits against Norfolk Southern Railroad and other parties are expected.

If you or a loved one have been impacted by the East Palestine Ohio Train Derailment, contact our law firm.

What are Potential Damages in the East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit?

In the case of a potential lawsuit filed against Norfolk Southern and other responsible parties for the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, impacted residents may be eligible to file a claim and secure compensation for what they’ve experienced.

Potential damages in a lawsuit for the East Palestine Train Derailment may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Medical monitoring
  • Future medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost property value
  • Relocation costs (permanent or temporary)
  • Lost wages or earning capability
  • Impact to local businesses (coffee shops, food, farms, etc.)

Who Might Be Affected by the Train Derailment?

A countless number of people may be impacted by the derailment, and it is currently unknown what the long term impacts of this catastrophe could entail.

People who could be affected by the East Palestine Train Derailment include:

  • Residents of East Palestine and its surrounding communities, both in and out of the evacuation zone
  • Local business owners (restaurants, offices, industrial operations, etc.)
  • Farmers (animal poisoning, crop destruction, and soil and groundwater contamination)
  • Firefighters and other first responders
  • Inspectors and contractors

What Should I Do if I Am Affected by the East Palestine Train Derailment?

If you or a loved one live in the area of the East Palestine derailment and the resulting plume and contamination, you should document your experience as thoroughly as possible.

Things you can do to help gather evidence may include:

  • Document all medical conditions, whether you seek or don’t seek treatment
    • Write down dates, times, and description of medical problems
  • Note anything that is happening in your local environment.
    • Unusual smells in the air, appearance and smell of water, waterway contamination, etc.
  • Take photos and videos of all related occurrences.
    • If your home or property was covered in dust, take photos and videos of what’s happened.
  • Try to keep and retain any property or samples. Retain evidence by sealing it in a bag if possible.
    • Clothes you wore at the time of the incident or upon returning to your home/business.
    • Property that may have been exposed.
    • Soil, water, dust, etc.

Take extreme caution collecting and retaining any evidence of chemical contamination.

TorHoerman Law: Investigating the East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit

TorHoerman Law is investigating the Norfolk Southern Railroad Freight Train Derailment and addressing the viability for lawsuits against the parties responsible for the environmental and health disaster.

The toxic substances released into the air and surrounding communities pose a significant threat to human health, drinking water supplies, the environment, and property near and downstream from the contamination site.

If you or a loved one have been impacted by the East Palestine Train Derailment, contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

Our law firm has secured over $4 billion in negotiated settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients. We are experienced in holding companies and corporate wrongdoers accountable for the harm they cause.

Contact us for more information.

East Palestine Train Derailment Lawsuit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Caused the Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio?

    The East Palestine train derailment occurred due to the failure of a railcar axle. The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that the train derailed due to an axle overheating and catching fire.

  • What Toxic Chemicals Were on the Train that Derailed in East Palestine, Ohio?

    The freight train that derailed in East Palestine was carrying the following chemicals:

    • Vinyl chloride
    • Benzene
    • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether
    • Ethylhexyl acrylate
    • Isobutylene
    • Polyethylene
    • Residue lube oil
    • Dipropolyne Glycol
    • Propelyne Glycol
    • Diethylene Glycol
    • Semolina
    • Polyvinyl (likely plastic pellets)
    • Petroleum lube oil
    • Petroleum oil
    • Potentially other dangerous chemicals

    These chemicals burned, sending hydrogen chloride into the air. Chemicals also undoubtedly leaked into the ground nearby and further into waterways. The toxic gas phosgene was also released into the air as a result of the fire.

  • What is Vinyl Chloride and What Happens When it Burns?

    Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas that flammable and reactive that is man-made. Vinyl chloride is used in several industries, but is primarily used to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a material used in plastic products.

    Burning vinyl chloride emits hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene. Exposure to these gases can cause symptoms such as:

    • Coughing.
    • Burning sensation in the throat and eyes.
    • Watery eyes.
    • Blurred vision.
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
    • Nausea and vomiting.
    • Irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, throat, and larynx.

  • What Communities Are Potentially Effected?

    East Palestine, Ohio is a village of almost 5,000 people near the Ohio Pennsylvania line. The village is situated near the Ohio River and several tributary waterways flow from the East Palestine area to the Ohio River.

    Communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia could be impacted chemical contamination from the Norfolk Southern train derailment. If contaminants did in fact reach the Ohio River and travel downstream, this event could be even more disastrous. The Ohio River supplies water to over 5 million people.

    The lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern request medical screenings for people within a 30-mile radius of East Palestine, Ohio.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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