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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Norfolk Southern Pays Through The Nose

WESB News: 11/15/07 - Norfolk Southern to Pay $7.35 Million

Norfolk Southern Corporation will pay 7 point 3-5 million dollars to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a settlement reached over the June 30, 2006, train derailment that caused more than 40 thousand gallons of lye to spill into the Sinnemahoning Portage Creek.

Three million dollars will go to McKean, Cameron, Potter and Elk counties, primarily to improve the waterways that were affected by the spill.

Norfolk Southern pleaded no contest to three pollution charges today in McKean County Court. McKean County District Attorney John Pavlock says this area of the state doesn't have major attractions like shopping malls or the Statue of Liberty, but it does have clean-flowing streams.

He says the effect of the spill was like crashing into the Statue of Liberty. Pavlock says this is the largest payment to the commonwealth for an act of environmental pollution. Prosecutors have said the train's engineer was under the influence of drugs and may have fallen asleep as the train began to speed down a steep grade, going 55 mph faster than the speed limit.

46-year-old Michael Seifert of West Seneca, N.Y., has been charged with causing or risking a catastrophe, reckless endangerment and breaking environmental laws.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband says the company thinks it's a fair settlement and was better than the alternative of an extended court situation. The company spent more than $4 million on cleanup.

For more information, visit the Department of Environmental Protection Web site.

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