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Pennsylvania school district sues Norfolk Southern over East Palestine train derailment

<i>NTSBGov/Reuters</i><br/>Drone footage from the National Transportation Safety Board shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine
Drone footage from the National Transportation Safety Board shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine

By Zenebou Sylla, CNN

A Pennsylvania school district is suing Norfolk Southern for negligence stemming from last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the subsequent “controlled” release of toxic chemicals at the derailment site, according to a complaint filed Thursday.

The Blackhawk School District in Beaver County is alleging “the toxic fires and deadly plumes dumped a lethal cocktail on (their) buildings, property, soil, and water supplies where deposits of the toxic materials have been found,” the complaint states. The school district is just over the state border and within a 15-mile radius of East Palestine.

Blackhawk School District is demanding a trial by jury and compensation for its students and staff for injuries and damages causing medical problems, the risk for future diseases, and the need for future monitoring of its properties, the complaint continued.

Norfolk Southern declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

The February 3 incident resulted in the derailment of 10 cars carrying hazardous materials. Five of the train cars were carrying vinyl chloride, a potentially explosive chemical. An evacuation zone was established and a controlled release of the chemical followed three days later.

The school district alleged in its lawsuit the release of the toxic chemicals was “without regard to Blackhawk School District, its students and staff,” due to the “negligent, reckless, ultrahazardous, and/or intentional conduct” of the Norfolk Southern corporation and railway company.

“The Blackhawk School District’s primary focus is to ensure the safety of the students, staff, and families within their district. The lawsuit seeks to hold Norfolk Southern responsible for any effects upon the community,” said Jordan Shuber, an attorney for the Blackhawk School District. “Norfolk Southern needs to step up to the plate in Pennsylvania.”

Blackhawk School District encompasses a 69-square mile area and includes students from both Beaver and Lawrence Counties in Pennsylvania, according to the complaint.

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