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Railroad OKs $1M for train derailment relief in western Pennsylvania

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(The Center Square) — Western Pennsylvania will receive $1 million from Norfolk Southern for community relief months after the February train derailment in the nearby border town of East Palestine, Ohio.

The money, coming after a $7.4 million aid package in March, will support residents in Darlington Township and Lawrence County for projects as dictated by local officials.

Gov. Josh Shapiro said the payment came after he requested it from the railroad corporation.

“Every step of the way, my administration has made clear that we are focused on delivering the help our communities need and holding Norfolk Southern accountable,” Shapiro said in a press release. “We will continue to follow through on our promises and support the people and communities that have been impacted. This critical funding will help Darlington Township and Lawrence County build back better than before, and my Administration will continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts on our Commonwealth.”

Darlington will receive $660,000, while Lawrence County will get $340,000.

“To the residents of Darlington Township, know this is not a settlement, but a small step forward,” Darlington Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Carreon said. “We continue in discussions with Norfolk Southern in an effort to address both our short- and long-term concerns. We would like to thank all federal, state, and local officials who continue to support us as we move forward.”

In April, the federal government also sent a $50,000 grant to treat residents for trauma.

Cleanup efforts in the area are still ongoing, as is environmental testing. Shapiro touted recent samples tested by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture that crop samples in the area didn’t show any contamination from the derailment, but residents aren’t always satisfied with current efforts.

In March, locals were skeptical of reassuring statements from officials due to a lack of transparency and poor communication, as The Center Square previously reported. A lack of attention from state and federal officials, too, harmed public trust.

Those concerns have not abated with time, either. Locals have still been critical of the EPA and state governments for not testing for more chemicals in the environment. A failure to test inside homes — to observe whether chemicals have been absorbed into walls, furniture, and other personal items — has left residents with the financial burden of doing so, which can cost up to thousands of dollars.

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