Shapiro Administration Ensuring Local Fire Departments in Western Pennsylvania Are Reimbursed by Norfolk Southern for Contaminated Equipment
February 22, 2023
Gov. Shapiro Continues to Protect Pennsylvanians and Hold Norfolk Southern Accountable for the Train Derailment’s Impacts on the Commonwealth
Harrisburg, PA – The Shapiro Administration is working to ensure fire departments in Western Pennsylvania are reimbursed by Norfolk Southern for the costs of replacing all equipment contaminated during the response and remediation to the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine on February 3rd.
Fire companies from Beaver, Lawrence, and Washington Counties responded to the derailment and the controlled vent and burn. While no fire departments are significantly impeded in being able to respond and serve the public at this point, many have reported contaminated turnout gear, hose, and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) along with some drop tanks for water supply operations.
The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner have reached out directly to local fire departments and are working with them to identify and catalogue their damaged and contaminated equipment, and to streamline submissions to the Norfolk Southern Claims Director.
“Pennsylvanians impacted by this incident are safe right now because of the hard work and public service of first responders and fire departments in Western Pennsylvania,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “First responders answered the call – their departments deserve to be made whole and we expect Norfolk Southern to quickly reimburse any department that responded to the derailment and needs to replace equipment. My Administration will continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts on the Commonwealth.”
“Our fire companies and first responders put their health and safety on the line for Pennsylvanians each day – we are proud of the good work they do and we thank them for their service,” said Acting Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook. “In order to continue doing their jobs safely and effectively, our firefighters need the right gear. We urge Norfolk Southern to swiftly reimburse our fire departments, it’s the right thing to do.”
Last week, Governor Josh Shapiro issued a letter to Norfolk Southern raising questions about the emergency response that was undertaken in the immediate aftermath of the derailment and vowing to hold the company accountable. Governor Shapiro also joined Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and the U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan for a press conference in East Palestine yesterday, and then met with affected residents in Beaver County.
Pennsylvania continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following this incident. The Shapiro Administration announced last week that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be conducting independent water sampling to closely monitor water contamination risks. Visit here for more information about DEP’s sampling efforts and other details about the derailment.