NS Enhances East Palestine Track Excavation/Remediation Plan

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-In-Chief, Railway Age
image description
Environmental remediation occurring on site to excavate and capture impacted soil. Norfolk Southern photo

Norfolk Southern on Feb. 22, the day before the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its preliminary report on the Feb. 3 East Palestine, Ohio, derailment, announced that it will, in a two-week period, excavate the soil and replace both main line tracks in the derailment area “as part of an enhanced remediation plan.” Work is under way.

NS said its change in plans “comes in response to feedback from the citizens of East Palestine. Work on the first rail line will begin immediately, with the second line to be replaced directly after.”

“Our original plan would have effectively and safely remediated the soil under our tracks,” said NS President and CEO Alan H. Shaw. “As I listened to community members over the past two weeks, they shared with me their concerns about that approach. I appreciate the direct feedback, and I am addressing it. In coordination with the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies, we are changing our remediation plan to temporarily remove the tracks so we can excavate the soil. It is important to me that the members of this community have confidence in Norfolk Southern’s remediation efforts and that we are working closely with local, state and federal agencies. An important part of this plan is to listen to the concerns of the community, and that’s a primary reason why we are going to enhance our plan.”

NS noted all its work at the site thus far “has been performed in accordance with widely accepted environmental practices. To date, the company has excavated more than 4,800 cubic yards of soil, or approximately 400 truckloads. Additionally, 1.7 million gallons, or approximately 200 tanker loads, of liquid have been collected for disposal.”

Under the enhanced plan, soil preparation will be followed by removal of the first main track, soil excavation, and then track rebuilding. The same process will then follow with the second main track. Trains will operate under a slow order through the work zone. NS said the site “will be fully remediated in accordance with the company’s long-term plan that is being developed with the Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies.”

Remediation Overview

  • Begin preparation for the removal and excavation of the first rail line.
  • Install and begin sampling shallow groundwater monitoring wells near the site.
  • Continue active soil sampling around the site.
  • Continue evaluating sediment and sampling in Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, and Bull Creek.
  • Continue to excavate soil on the site.
  • Continue surface water sampling, while monitoring and aerating the streams.
  • Evaluate the stormwater infrastructure around the site.
  • Continue the disposal of impacted water at an approved disposal facility.
  • Begin shipping impacted soil to an approved disposal facility.
Tags: ,