Norfolk Southern agrees to use Ohio businesses for East Palestine cleanup
Norfolk Southern will hire Ohio businesses for cleanup in the aftermath of the toxic train derailment last month in East Palestine.
Despite the ongoing lawsuit between the state and Norfolk Southern over the derailment, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost approached the company with a request.
"Can we have an agreement between my office and Norfolk and Southern that you're going to spend that money in Ohio?," Yost asked.
Norfolk Southern agreed. A representative from the company was scheduled to attend the announcement about the agreement, but was unable to make it.
"What can I tell you? I think that Norfolk Southern could probably — it's probably a good thing for them to do a few things for Ohio," Yost said.
The agreement won't impact the state's lawsuit, Yost said.
"But I don't have any reason to believe Norfolk and Southern isn't welcoming this opportunity with open arms," Yost said. "They were very receptive and moved very quickly to make this their company policy."
The agreement is in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency's order for Norfolk Southern to pay all remediation costs related to the derailment.
"All this does is that the money that they're already required to spend will be spent with Ohio companies for Ohio services and Ohio goods," Yost said.
The agreement will specifically benefit businesses in the Mahoning Valley, close to where the derailment occurred, Yost said.
"I am excited that it is Ohio businesses and businesses right here in the valley that are going to benefit from the money that has to be spent on the cleanup and remediation from this accident," Yost said.
There's one unlikely exception to the agreement, Yost said.
"If there's something that needs to be licensed or something or an expertise that doesn't exist in Ohio, which I'm hard pressed to figure out what that would be, this is a big state with a lot of expertise in a lot of areas, then obviously they have to comply with the federal order," Yost said.
The Youngstown Warren Chamber of Commerce will help connect local businesses with Norfolk Southern, Yost said.
"While there's no formal agreement, I know that we've identified the Chamber as a major tool, if you will, for them to access those businesses and find the goods and services they need," Yost said.
The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce is also planning a "Shop East Palestine Day" to support local retail establishments.