(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Norfolk Southern’s half-baked plan to ignite chemicals released in its East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment made matters worse by producing a highly lethal gas now banned under the Geneva Convention, according to the latest lawsuit filed over the matter.
The class action lawsuit, filed last week by law firm Morgan & Morgan, claims that Norfolk Southern was having difficulties extinguishing flames resulting from the Feb. 3 derailment. So the company instead decided to blow holes in the train cars, release some 1.1 million pounds of vinyl chloride into the environment, and then light the material on fire, according to the lawsuit.
The result was a 1 million-pound chemical burn pit, which produced a mushroom cloud that spread toxins for miles, the lawsuit states.
“I’m not sure Norfolk Southern could have come up with a worse plan to address this disaster. Residents exposed to vinyl chloride may already be undergoing DNA mutations that could linger for years or even decades before manifesting as terrible and deadly cancers,” attorney John Morgan said in a press release after the lawsuit was filed last week.
“From chemicals that cause nausea and vomiting to a substance responsible for the majority of chemical warfare deaths during World War I, the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities are facing an unprecedented array of threats to their health.”
The lawsuit includes the stories of two victims who live near the derailment.
One of the victims, Lisa Sodergen, lives approximately 5 miles from the site of the derailment, and her home and surrounding pasture were covered by toxic black smoke, the lawsuit states.
“She has suffered from pulmonary, ocular and dermal distress since her exposure to Norfolk Southern’s million pound chemical burn pit,” the lawsuit states. “She lives with ongoing pulmonary irritation and fear for the long-term consequences to her health and water supply.”
Another victim, Aysia Canterbury, lives nearly four miles from the site. According to the lawsuit, she was forced to evacuate from her home for several days.
“Norfolk Southern’s noxious fumes have left a lingering chemical odor on her property. She and her family have suffered from nasal, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal distress since their exposure to Norfolk Southern’s million-pound chemical burn pit,” the lawsuit says. “She lives with ongoing nasal and pulmonary irritation and fear for the long-term consequences to her health and water supply.”
The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for damages, as well as an award to start a fund for a medical monitoring program. This is the sixth class-action lawsuit filed against Norfolk to date. The company has yet to issue a response to any of the lawsuits.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.