Virginia DEQ accepting public comment on 2020 Norfolk Southern train derailment in Roanoke Co.

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 4:51 PM EST
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ROANOKE Co., Va. (WDBJ) - As cleanup continues in East Palestine, Ohio from a Norfolk Southern toxic train derailment last month, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is collecting public comment on a Norfolk Southern train derailment in Roanoke County in 2020.

The DEQ is proposing an enforcement action against Norfolk Southern for state and local violations.

You have until this Friday to submit public comment on this order issued by the Department of Environmental Quality, which details how Norfolk Southern violated several laws and now will have to pay a fine.

A representative for DEQ declined to speak with us about the proposed enforcement action.

According to the order, more than 1,300 tons of coal have since been removed from the river. There were around 2,600 hundred tons of coal in the train cars, but it’s still undetermined how many tons of coal went directly into the water

The discharge from the coal caused high levels of iron and thallium in the Roanoke River. During the last sampling event in July 2021, the DEQ said the water was free of coal particles.

According to the order, DEQ has fined Norfolk Southern $27,300 for the violations which Norfolk Southern has agreed to pay.

A representative for DEQ told us in an email, “The public comment period for this consent order agreement is to allow the public to comment pertaining to the outcome of the consent order and proposed penalty. That is, to assure DEQ is meeting our statutory requirement in how the enforcement action was levied within our existing enforcement guidelines.”

A representative from Norfolk Southern has not yet returned our request for comment.

You can submit public comment by emailing Dan Burstein at DEQ Central Office: