Ohio Agencies Seeking $900K Over Train Derailment

July 15, 2013

Agencies in Columbus, Ohio, are trying to recoup nearly $900,000 spent or lost in the train derailment and explosion that lit up the early morning sky north of downtown and heavily damaged a city bus depot one year ago.

Those billing Norfolk Southern Corp. include Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Columbus police and fire departments and the Central Ohio Transit Authority, The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday, the anniversary of the accident.

The transit authority – known as COTA – wants $605,397 for lost business and fire damage to its bus hub. In total, the various agencies are seeking around $887,000.

The National Transportation Safety Board hasn’t determined what caused the July 11, 2012, derailment near the state fairgrounds. Seventeen cars went off the tracks, with three cars carrying 90,000 gallons of ethanol exploding.

The blasts were felt for blocks and sent flames shooting high in the air. Ethanol, corn syrup and grain spilled from the cars and seeped into the ground. Two people were injured and an urban neighborhood was evacuated, with many of the displaced residents ending up at a temporary shelter at the state fairgrounds.

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson told the newspaper that a growing number of other investigations has delayed the Columbus probe, probably into next year.

A Norfolk Southern spokesman declined to comment.

Ohio law allows emergency responders to bill for their services.

Columbus police billed the rail company $43,403.55, and the city fire department is seeking reimbursement of $137,509.57. The Franklin Township fire department is seeking $64,000.24, and the Franklin County emergency management agency said it incurred $36,798.95 in costs.

The transit authority, which sent Norfolk Southern a bill on May 30, also is responsible for additional underground drums that were found to have contaminated soil on its property. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said Norfolk Southern discovered several drums near the area when it was finishing its part of the cleanup.

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