DOJ Sues NS Over Graniteville Derailment

WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Justice filed an environmental lawsuit suit against Norfolk Southern Railway, three years after a fatal derailment in Graniteville, S.C.

The Department of Justice is seeking civil penalties and injunctive relief under the Clean Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.

On Jan. 6, 2005, a northbound Norfolk Southern Railway freight train encountered an “improperly lined” switch, and the train diverted from the main line onto an industry track. There, it struck an unoccupied, parked train.

Among the derailed cars were three tank cars containing chlorine, one of which was breached, releasing chlorine gas. The train engineer and eight other people died as a result of chlorine gas inhalation.

Hundreds more were evacuated because of spilled chemicals.

“DOJ has rejected efforts by Norfolk Southern to resolve the matter and Norfolk Southern is disappointed the government is taking this action given its response following the derailment, its full cooperation in the investigation and its payment of governmental response costs,” the railroad said in a statement. “Norfolk Southern is confident that the civil penalties and relief sought by the Department will not be sustained.”

— News Wire