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Blackhawk School District files lawsuit against Norfolk Southern amid train derailment fallout

Blackhawk School District files lawsuit against Norfolk Southern
Blackhawk School District files lawsuit against Norfolk Southern 03:18

BEAVER FALLS, PA (KDKA) — A Beaver County school district has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern on behalf of students and staff allegedly impacted by last month's train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit spoke with KDKA-TV on Thursday, and he believes this is the first lawsuit filed by a school district against Norfolk Southern. He also believes it's the first lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh, adding other lawsuits were filed in Ohio.

Blackhawk School District has filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern. Attorney Tom King filed it in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

"The end goal is to get Norfolk Southern to do the right thing here," King said. "And the right thing here is to provide the funds necessary to do the things that the Blackhawk School District needs to do to safeguard its students and its residents and not at the expense of the taxpayers."

The lawsuit accuses Norfolk Southern of releasing toxic chemicals into the air and onto the ground with no regard for the Blackhawk School District, its students or its staff.

The lawsuit alleges the railroad company dumped a "lethal cocktail" on the district's buildings, property, soil and water supplies, even saying the district found deposits of the toxic materials.

"We're concerned what effects these toxic clouds have had in the materials in them on our property, on our buildings, on our vents, our air, our water, our quality of life. And we believe there should be monitoring going on to ensure the health and safety are maintained of the kids in the Blackhawk School District, and that they're protected from future events in which we have no control, no part and weren't consulted," King said.

King emphasized the school district sits in Beaver County, very close to the border with East Palestine. When the train accident occurred, the first plume generated by the accident enveloped Beaver County. The second intentional blast, the controlled burn, also traveled directly into the Blackhawk School District, the attorney said. 

"We believe that they were negligent with respect to the original accident," King said, "and then the intentional blast of the additional material is something that is being debated everywhere, including in the legislature in Pa."  

The attorney said justice could mean a jury trial. KDKA-TV reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment Thursday but has not heard back. 

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