Norfolk Southern (NS) on Sept. 14 reported granting East Palestine, Ohio, $4.299 million to overhaul the municipal drinking water system, as part of a commitment the Class I made after its Feb. 3 train derailment in the village.
According to NS, the funding will cover new engineering and carbon filtration systems. It includes the $661,481 already reimbursed to the village for new carbon filters and initial engineering, as well as $3.638 million to fund additional engineering and new filtration technology, and infrastructure. NS said it will “continue conversations with the village to determine if additional work is needed.”
In March 2023, NS committed to addressing long-term community concerns on drinking water, health care and home values, and the railroad said this new grant announcement marks a milestone in the process.
Municipal water continues to be sampled and monitored by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, along with a team of independent scientists, according to NS. Test results, it reported, “continue to show no water quality concerns as a result of the derailment and these upgrades will help protect against future water quality concerns.”
“We made a commitment to invest in the protection of East Palestine’s drinking water for the long term, and we are making significant strides toward fulfilling that,” NS President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said. “We worked with community leaders and their outside experts to develop the best path forward. Thanks to their feedback, these infrastructure upgrades will help ensure clean drinking water remains accessible for East Palestine’s current and future generations.”
“This technology will drastically improve water quality in the village,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said. “Our current system, like other municipal systems across the country, is focused on eliminating heavy metals like lead, but these upgrades go deeper and broader, using the leading methods for ensuring the quality of drinking water.”
To date, NS said that it has committed $74.3 million to East Palestine and the surrounding communities. In August, the railroad released a six-month progress report outlining its efforts following the derailment as well as its next steps.