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Pennsylvania attorneys general file misdemeanor charges against NS in connection with 2006 derailment/sodium hydroxide release

Yesterday, the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the McKean County District Attorney filed three misdemeanor charges against Norfolk Southern Corp. in connection with a June 30, 2006, derailment and sodium hydroxide release in McKean County, Pa.

Under certain Pennsylvania environmental and aquatic resource protection statutes, charges may be brought, regardless of fault or intent, when there is a non-permitted discharge of certain materials or a discharge into a stream, according to an NS prepared statement acknowledging receipt of the charges.

The charges "will not have a material financial effect on Norfolk Southern, and the company expects to work with the relevant authorities to reach a satisfactory resolution of these charges," NS said.

Since the incident, NS has spent nearly $4 million on its environmental response and to restore the area and waterways impacted by the incident, the railroad says. The site restoration activities were completed during the week of June 18. Following is a summary of the railroad's response efforts:

• Removed more than 4,600 cubic yards of material containing residual concentrations of sodium hydroxide from the east and west sides of the track, and replaced with clean material and topsoil;
• Stabilized and restored sections of Portage Creek and Big Fill Hollow, which included planting 290 wetland and upland trees, 368 wetland shrubs, 1,944 live stake trees, and more than 5,000 individual wetland grass sedges;
• Seeded and mulched nearly 1.5 acres;
• Conducted a survey of aquatic life in Portage Creek, which indicated that it currently meets designated and existing uses as "exceptional value waters" in accordance with regulatory criteria established by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection;
• Installed 37 groundwater monitoring wells and 46 soil borings, collected 5,300 pH and temperature readings from surface water and seeps, and performed more than 6,000 conductivity tests to define the extent of potential soil impacts; and
• Tested more than 100 residential water sources in two separate sampling periods, which in all instances confirmed that applicable standards were being met.

NS is "optimisticæ that all other proceedings connected to the June 30, 2006, incident will be resolved in the near future, according to the statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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