Human Rights Derailed: The East Palestine Train Disaster


On February 3, 2023, a train owned by Norfolk Southern, carrying hazardous chemicals, derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.[1] When the train crashed, a toxic chemical fire burned for an entire day.[2] Ohio Governor, Michael DeWine, ordered evacuation of the area surrounding the crash site.[3] To avoid a catastrophic explosion of vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, first responder crews released the vinyl chloride into a trench and performed a controlled burn of the chemical.[4] Residents of the area became concerned about the habitability of this small town in the immediate aftermath.[5] Government officials at the state and federal levels have assured residents of the town that the water, air, and soil are safe for human habitation despite the release of carcinogenic chemicals.[6] Residents reported rashes, coughing, and respiratory problems in the aftermath of the crash despite testing and science verifying that the town is safe for human habitation.[7]

This article will begin by examining the residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area, and how the response to their pleas for help has become politicized. Next, this article will describe the causes of the derailment, specifically, the role that deregulation played in precipitating the derailment. This blog will then explore the response of state and federal authorities to the crisis both in terms of executive legal action and pending legislation. The blog will examine the potential human rights violations at play in the disaster and what international remedies are potentially available to the people of East Palestine, Ohio.

The Forgotten People of East Palestine, Ohio

On April 7, 1932, in a radio address during the depression, then-candidate for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called upon the nation “for the building of plans that rest upon the forgotten… that put their faith once more in the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”[8] When President Roosevelt used the phrase “forgotten man,” he did something novel at the time for the Democratic Party in the United States: he referenced the existence of class conflict in America.[9] More recently, President Trump, in his victory speech in 2016, invoked similar language, declaring that “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”[10] President Trump’s use of that language recalls the racist and classist origin of the phrase with William Sumner, a social Darwinist who, in vile terms, used the phrase to describe the middle class who were being dragged down by the needy poor, and pit economic and racial classes against one another.[11] For President Trump, this rhetoric appealed to the white working-class that delivered him an electoral college victory in the 2016 election.[12]

East Palestine and the surrounding area are emblematic of the “the forgotten men and women” that President Trump invoked in his victory speech. As of the 2020 United States Census, Columbiana County, where East Palestine is located, has a population that is ninety five percent white.[13] The most recent data has the poverty rate as nearly seventeen percent and the per capita income as $28,538 for Columbiana County.[14] Over seventy percent of the voting population of Columbiana County voted to re-elect President Trump in 2020.[15] In 2016, approximately sixty eight percent of the voting population in the county voted for then candidate Trump.[16]

Political conservatives in the weeks after the derailment have attempted to craft a narrative that the government’s poor response to the crisis is because the area affected is overwhelmingly white and politically conservative.[17] Tucker Carlson, a conservative commentator and now former Fox News host, echoing the language used by William Sumner, said the following on his February 14, 2023 broadcast show:

East Palestine is overwhelmingly white, and it’s politically conservative. That shouldn’t be relevant but as you’re about to hear, it very much is… If this had happened to the rich or the ‘favored poor,’ it would be the lead of every news channel in the world. But it happened to the poor town of East Palestine, Ohio, whose people are forgotten, and in the view of the people who lead this country, forgettable.[18]

The intent of these remarks is clear: to appeal to the same white grievance politics that led candidate Trump to become President Trump, pitting poor white people against poor people of color.[19] The preferable alternative to this race-baiting, divisive narrative emphasizes the common human rights that people of all colors and classes share. As former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, in response to a chemical spill near Philadelphia, tweeted “From East Palestine to Philadelphia, people deserve clean water.”[20] This article will in its later part examine the human rights violations that the people of East Palestine experienced because of the derailment.

The Causes of the Derailment

This section will explore the causes of the derailment of the Norfolk Southern train. Specifically, this section will address how the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) assessed the causes of the derailment in its preliminary report. However, the NTSB report will only detail the proximate causes of the derailment, rather than the underlying systemic issues which precipitated the crash. Further, this section will explore how systematic deregulation of the railroad industry contributes to train derailments on a broader scale.

A. The Causes According to the Findings of Preliminary NTSB Report

On February 23, 2023, the NTSB issued a preliminary report about the Norfolk South train derailment, detailing its findings concerning the event and its likely causes.[21] The train that derailed (Train 32N) consisted of 149 railcars and three locomotives.[22] Thirty eight rail cars derailed off the main track in East Palestine.[23] Those thirty eight rail cars included eleven tank cars with hazardous material like combustible liquid, flammable gas, and vinyl chloride that caught fire and spread to damage twelve non-derailed railcars.[24]

The report highlights the wheels of one of the railcars overheating as the primary cause of the derailment.[25] The accident occurred around 8:54 PM Eastern Time when visibility was dark, but clear.[26] The temperature was 10oF, and there was no precipitation.[27] Before the accident, the train had a speed of forty seven miles per hour, below the maximum authorized speed of fifty miles per hour.[28]

Train 32N employed dynamic brakes.[29] Dynamic brakes take the kinetic energy of a train’s wheels, while the train moves, and uses that energy to cause the train to slow down.[30] The brakes respond quicker than air brakes, provided that the train is moving faster than nine miles per hour.[31] A primary reason why companies use dynamic braking is that these brakes lessen wear and tear from friction as compared to air brakes and require fewer stops than air brakes.[32]

B. The Role of Deregulation in the Derailment

Rail industry lobbyists played a key role in halting further safety requirements that could have potentially averted the rail disaster in East Palestine.[33] When a railway transports certain “high hazard” material, it has to incur additional precautions.[34] In this case, federal regulators had, in years prior, sided with rail industry lobbyists in exempting hazardous materials such as the ones on the Norfolk Southern train that derailed from these further regulatory requirements.[35]

In 2014, the Obama administration proposed regulations that would have improved safety for trains carrying petroleum and other combustible material in response to similar derailments.[36] However, the administration caved to pressure from industry lobbyists and the administration opted to impose the supplementary regulations solely on crude oil transportation, exempting the chemicals implicated in the East Palestine derailment.[37]

The Trump administration built upon the failures of the prior administration by further deregulating the transportation of hazardous materials on trains.[38] The Trump administration got rid of regulations that required electronic braking systems for rail cars transporting hazardous flammable material instead of the standard air brakes.[39] The trade lobby group associated with Norfolk Southern argued in public comments that such regulation would “impose tremendous costs without providing offsetting safety benefits.”[40] The lobbying group for the company advanced this claim despite the prior statement by Norfolk Southern that such electronic brakes had “potential to reduce train stopping distances by as much as sixty percent over conventional air brake systems.”[41]

Response of Ohio Authorities

A. Ohio Lawmakers

On March 31, 2023, Ohio Governor, Michael DeWine signed into law a new transportation budget which included additional rail safety measures in response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment.[42] Provisions of the new law include mandatory two-person crews for freight trains, a requirement that personnel immediately notify train operators when a wayside detector system alerts the personnel of a defect..[43] The law also includes an order that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency write reports to the Ohio legislature about the transportation of hazardous materials and waste and increase the number of wayside detectors on railways in Ohio.[44] Prior to the law, the Federal Railroad Administration allowed railroad companies to place wayside detectors up to twenty five miles apart.[45] Under the Ohio law, the wayside detectors will be placed ten to fifteen miles apart, allowing train operators to spot defective wheels sooner.[46]

The Ohio Railroad Association, the lobbying group for Ohio rail companies, expressed concern  that federal law will preempt Ohio law and prevent enactment of these safety measures.[47]  However, the Ohio General Assembly passed and Governor DeWine signed the legislation despite objections.[48]

Lawsuit brought by Ohio Attorney General

On March 14, 2023, Ohio Attorney General David Yost brought a civil lawsuit against Norfolk Southern for its negligent involvement in the train derailment in federal court.[49] The complaint alleges fifty two counts of various ways that the company breached Ohio law and seeks civil penalties and relief for future and current costs associated with the disaster.[50] The complaint details Norfolk Southern’s long history and pattern of train derailments caused by the lack of investment in adequate safety precautions.[51]

In the suit, Attorney General Yost claims Ohio holds its natural resources in a public trust and thus “has a fiduciary obligation to bring suit not only to protect the corpus of the trust property but also to recoup the public’s loss occasioned by the negligent acts of those who damage or destroy such property.”[52] Further, the lawsuit states a claim under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for the recovery of response costs of the State of Ohio in response to the derailment as well as any costs incurred from the hazardous material dispersing into the air, water, and soil of the surrounding area.[53] Ohio also sued for the cost of restoration of the natural resources to which the derailment caused damage.[54]

The lawsuit also maintains that Norfolk Southern disposed of hazardous waste illegally at the crash site.[55] In regard to liability, the lawsuit alleges that the company failed to sufficiently insure against the possibility of an accident such as the derailment occurring, and lacked a contingency plan in the event that something was to go wrong.[56]

The majority of the complaint concerns the environmental and health effects of the derailment and the negligence of the rail company in its safety procedures.[57] Over thirty five of the fifty two counts in the complaint are variations of unauthorized discharge to the waters of the State of Ohio.[58] Those counts concern different chemicals that the company discharged through its controlled detonation and burn of the hazardous material into the various waterways of Ohio that surrounded the crash site.[59] The complaint brings suit for discharging pollutants into the air and  alleges damages under the theory of nuisance and trespass.[60]

In May, the Ohio Attorney General stated publicly that the lawsuit will likely take years to resolve.[61] The Attorney General’s office has to collect all the information about the harm to residents and the environment because of the derailment.[62] The Ohio Attorney General’s office is also seeking payment of money to the town residents to compensate them for the loss of property values.[63] In the view of the Attorney General, the lawsuit also seeks to uncover all the facts about the derailment so that it does not occur in another town.[64]

Response of Federal Authorities

On March 31, 2023, The US Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway regarding the train derailment in East Palestine.[65] The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), alleges Norfolk Southern illegally discharged pollutants, oil, and hazardous substances in violation of the Clean Water Act, and seeks to hold the company financially liable for both past and future costs associated with the clean-up and aftermath of the derailment under CERCLA.[66]

Congressional Legislation Introduced in Response

In response to the East Palestine train derailment, several groups of lawmakers in the US Congress have introduced legislation. Two representatives from Ohio introduced rail safety legislation known as the Reducing Accidents in Locomotives (RAIL) Act.[67] Bill Johnson, a Republican US Congressional Representative, and Emilia Strong Sykes, a Democratic US Congressional Representative, authored the RAIL Act.[68] The bill proposes to audit federal rail inspection programs, increase penalties for safety violations by rail companies, increase the budget for first responders’ hazardous materials training, and increase all train inspections, not just those carrying hazardous materials.[69]

In the US Senate, senators proposed a different bill known as the Railway Safety Act of 2023.[70]  Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown and Republican Senator JD Vance, both of Ohio, introduced the legislation.[71] The bill has bipartisan support from Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senators and Republican Senators Marco Rubio (Florida) and Josh Hawley (Missouri).[72] The bill would seek to accomplish the same goal of increased rail safety through slightly different means.[73] Similar to the legislation in Ohio, it would require two-person crews to work on trains carrying hazardous materials.[74] Like the legislation in the House of Representatives, the bill would raise fines for railroad safety violations.[75] The Railway Safety Act of 2023 would also appropriate funding for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to research and develop safety features for tanks carrying hazardous materials.[76]

Unfortunately, while the initial proposed bill by the Ohio Senators represented a robust attempt at reform, the legislation and support for the reforms have grown weaker as money from corporations with a hand in the disaster has trickled into the Senate Republican coffers.[77] Specifically, Occidental Petroleum, the manufacturer of the toxic chemicals involved in the spill gave two million dollars to the main Senate GOP super Political Action Committee (PAC).[78]  The company along with its industry lobbying group—the American Chemistry Council—have also lobbied both houses of Congress on rail and tank safety which have weakened the bill before it even has the chance to get out of committee.[79]

Lobbyists for rail suppliers and the chemical industry have swayed Senator Vance to amend his own bill, weakening regulations the bill would enact.[80] Senator Vance acknowledged transparently in a statement that the bill has “made a number of concessions to the rail industry, a number of concessions to various interest groups.”[81] Specifically, in May 2023, Senator Vance amended the bill to delay the deadline for replacement of puncture-susceptible, antiquated tank cars to a safer, more modern version of tank cars from May 2025 to December 2028.[82] In addition, the amended bill increased funding for first responders and training requirements, but removed a key provision that required the Transportation Secretary to set size limits—both length and weight—for trains carrying hazardous materials.[83]

Despite its significant weaknesses, the legislation introduced by Senator Vance and Senator Brown made it out of committee.[84] However, in the months since the disaster, the legislation has stalled.[85] The proposed law faces powerful opposition from the railroad industry and the threat of a Republican filibuster in the Senate.[86] Bill Vantuano, editor-in-chief at Railway Age, a trade magazine for the rail industry, observed “For all intents and purposes, it’s dead.”[87]

Potential Human Rights Violations

The United States government violated the human rights of the community of East Palestine. Those rights include the right to health, and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Until the long-term effects of the derailment manifest, it will be hard to know the extent of the violation of human rights to the East Palestine community.

A. Right to Health

A well-established human right in international law is the right to health. The United Nation Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.[88]

One interpretation of this provision, which provides for a right to health for all people and an adequate standard of living to achieve that end, is that environmental rights exist implicitly within that right.[89] Under this interpretation, the right to a habitable environment acts as a precondition to the rights in this provision.[90] However, a plain reading of the rights secured by this founding document also provides for the violation of the rights of the people of East Palestine.

The derailment in East Palestine negatively impacts the ability of the people of the surrounding community to enjoy the right to health including the right to food, housing, and personal security in circumstances beyond their control. Farmers in the county surrounding where the derailment took place have voiced concern about the possibility of dioxins contaminating the soil.[91] The EPA and the Ohio Department of Agriculture have undertaken testing of the soil and have stated that crops and livestock raised on the land are safe for human consumption.[92] However, the agencies have recommended further testing in the future as hazardous material could appear in the soil as pollution from the explosion continues to drift into ground water or neighboring aquifers.[93] Currently, the science suggests that the derailment will not affect the community’s right to food, but whether the derailment affects the enjoyment of that right in the future remains an open question given the need for further testing.[94]

The right to housing is implicated due to the inability to sell houses in the affected area as well as the possibility of the need for relocation of affected individuals.[95] Real estate appraisers consider the homes in East Palestine “not marketable.”[96] Mortgage lenders will not lend money for a house that an appraiser considers “not marketable.”[97] During questioning in the United States Senate, the CEO of Norfolk Southern refused to commit to compensating property owners for loss of value of their property.[98] Norfolk Southern has offered to pay for temporary housing and relocation expenses for residents in the area of the derailment while the crash site is remediated.[99] However, it bears emphasizing the company has not agreed to any type of permanent compensation for relocation and housing in the event that the area remains a danger to human health.[100] As the situation stands, the disaster has deprived residents of the town of the right to housing and left them with the choice of abandoning their property and community by moving elsewhere or continuing to risk exposure to hazardous materials.[101]

The United States government violated the right to personal security in circumstances beyond their control of the residents of East Palestine including the right to have governments respond in the face of disasters.[102] Circumstances beyond their control can include disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes.[103] In the face of a disaster, the right to an adequate standard of living and health does not cease, but rather governments have a continuing obligation to mitigate and respond effectively to the disaster to protect that right.[104] Thus, East Palestine residents have an implied right in the face of a human-caused disaster to an adequate standard of living.[105]

The right to health is also implicated in a general way in that the people of East Palestine have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. Vinyl chloride released because of the derailment poses a severe long-term health effect to those exposed in East Palestine and the surrounding area because it is a known carcinogen.[106] Concerningly, those people exposed to the chemical have an increased chance of developing liver cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, brain cancer, and lung cancer.[107]

While the disaster caused current damage, the disaster will potentially devastate the collective right to health of people in the region in the future. Federal, state, and local governments have a duty to ensure the right to food, housing, and personal security in circumstances beyond one’s control.

B. The Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment

Recently, United Nation member states including the United States voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution providing for the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.[108] The resolution draws upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an implicit source for making this right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment an explicit right.[109] The resolution has language which speaks directly to the human rights implications of the type of environmental disaster that the train derailment caused:

… the pollution of air, land and water, the unsound management of chemicals and waste,  the resulting loss of biodiversity and the decline in services provided by ecosystems interfere with the enjoyment of a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and that environmental damage has negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of all human rights.[110]

The following section will examine how increased pollution, chemical and waste management, and loss of biodiversity because of the disaster contribute to the violation of this human right.

The derailment polluted the air of the area of East Palestine, potentially posing long-term health effects to residents.[111] An independent analysis of EPA data discovered the presence of nine air pollutants at potentially concerning levels for residents of the affected region.[112] The EPA has stated that the levels of air pollution are likely to dissipate, and thus, will not pose negative health effects.[113] However, an independent researcher at Texas A&M cautioned that serious health effects could take months or years to appear.[114] Another researcher studying the disaster warned that researchers simply do not know “the health impact of a more chronic, low-level exposure.”[115] The derailment will cause air pollution that scientists will only observe with the passage of time.

The disposal of chemical waste, contaminated soil, and contaminated water from the disaster potentially violates the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. In the month since the disaster, the EPA transported over 700 tons of contaminated soil and almost two million gallons of water away from the small town in eastern Ohio.[116] To dispose of the waste, the agency transported the waste to sites in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Texas.[117] Additionally, the problem of which site takes on the waste poses problems for the communities where those waste disposal sites are.[118] When the EPA stated that waste from the derailment would go to a site in Indiana, the Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb objected.[119] Similarly, local officials in Houston, Texas objected when waste from the derailment was transported to a suburb of the city.[120] Thus, the disposal of the waste raises fears among not only in the community of East Palestine, but in the communities in which it will be stored.[121] As with the health impact of the air pollution, there remain lingering questions about whether this waste from the disaster will be properly managed. These concerns lend themselves to the potential for violation of the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment.

The derailment negatively affected biodiversity in the region. Over 43,000 fish and animals died because of the disaster.[122] According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, approximately 38,000 minnows and approximately 5,000 other aquatic animals died within a five-mile area of the derailment.[123] Although none of the animals that died were endangered or threatened species, the deaths still foster concern about the long term effects on terrestrial or larger species of animals.[124] Such concerns include the loss of a food source and possible health effects in the long-term on flora and fauna in the region because of chemical exposure.[125]

Thus, the United States government has potentially violated the right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment through its failure to properly prevent and respond to the East Palestine train derailment.

International Remedies

If the United States government fails to adequately remedy these human rights violations, residents of East Palestine could petition the United Nations Human Rights Committee to remedy the harm.  Cáceres et al v. Paraguay establishes precedent for citizens of a country to sue their government for failure to respond effectively through proper reparations to those affected by the pollution of toxic chemicals.[126]

In this case, the Paraguayan farming family of Ruben Portillo Cáceres petitioned the UN Human Rights Committee after his death from agrochemical poisoning.[127] The mass use of toxic agricultural chemicals by large neighboring industrial farms led to his death as well as the poisoning of many of the locals.[128] The UN Human Rights Committee conducted an investigation and found that Paraguay’s government violated the family’s rights to life, privacy, family, and home, and to an effective state remedy.[129]

After those findings, The UN Human Rights Committee directed the Paraguayan government to investigate the fumigation of agrochemicals and enforce criminal and administrative sanctions on the actors responsible for Cáceres’s death.[130] As of 2022, the Paraguayan government has ignored that order.[131] It has yet to prosecute a single actor responsible for Cáceres’s death.[132]

Here, the facts are similar when viewed from a distance. The government of a country failed to regulate an industry. This deregulation resulted in the poisoning of residents of a rural town. The state has failed to uphold the rights of the townspeople enumerated in the UN Charter. The townspeople of East Palestine, Ohio could conceivably bring a petition to the UN Human Rights Committee to seek reparations should other mechanisms fail to provide redress. Unfortunately, the Cáceres case demonstrates that a government may choose to defy the orders of the UN Human Rights Committee. If the people of East Palestine brought a petition and the UN Human Rights Committee issued an order in their favor, the United States could potentially ignore the order like Paraguay.


The US government has failed to adequately protect several human rights guaranteed to the people of East Palestine by the United Nations. Litigation and legislative fixes to the rail disaster to prevent future occurrences of similar disasters and compensate the victims of this disaster are ongoing. The task is now for scholars and concerned people to hold those in power in government and Norfolk Southern accountable for what happened, and to not forget the people of East Palestine.

[1] Alisha Ebrahiimji and Holly Yan, It’s Been More Than a Month Since a Freight Train Carrying Hazardous Chemicals Derailed in Ohio, CNN, (Mar 23, 2023),, (last visited May 8, 2023).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Franklin D. Roosevelt, Radio Address from Albany, New York: “The ‘Forgotten Man’ Speech”, THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY PROJECT, Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[9] Id.

[10] Jefferson Cowie, Donald Trump and History’s Competing Visions of America’s ‘Forgotten Man’, TIME, (Nov 11,2016),, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] QuickFacts: Columbiana County, Ohio, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, (2022),, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[14] Id.

[15] Summary Report Columbiana County, OH Official Results, COLUMBIANA BD. OF ELECTIONS, (Nov 17, 2020), (last visited May 3, 2023).

[16] Summary Report Columbiana County, OH Official Results, COLUMBIANA BD. OF ELECTIONS, (Nov 23, 2016), (last visited May 3, 2023).

[17] Arianna Coghill, Fox News Weaponizes the East Palestine Train Derailment for the White Grievance Crowd, MOTHER JONES, (Feb 21, 2023),, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] @ninaturner, TWITTER, (Mar 26, 2023),, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[21] Nat’l Transp. Safety Board, RRD23MR005, Norfolk Southern Railway Train Derailment with Subsequent Hazardous Material Release and Fires (2023).

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.



[30] D. Lustig, Dynamic Braking: How it Works, Why it Works, TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD, (Dec 2002),,more%20so%20than%20air%20brakes., (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[31] Id.

[32] Id.

[33] David Sirota et al., Rail Companies Blocked Safety Rules Before Ohio Derailment, THE LEVER, (Feb 8, 2023),, (last visited Apr 10, 2023).

[34] Id.

[35] Id.

[36] Id.

[37] Id.

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

[40] Id.

[41] Id.

[42] Samantha Hendrickson, Ohio Governor Signs Rail Safety Measures into Law, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEWS, (Mar 31, 2023),, (last visited Dec 8, 2023).

[43] Samantha Hendrickson, Ohio Lawmakers OK Rail Safety Rules after Train Derailment, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEWS, (Mar 29, 2023),, (last visited Apr 11, 2023).

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] Id.

[49] Katherine Gemmingen, Ohio Takes Legal Action Against Norfolk Southern over East Palestine Train Derailment, JURIST, (Mar 14, 2023),, (last visited Apr 11, 2023).

[50] Id.

[51] The State of Ohio v. Norfolk Southern Co., Pl. Complaint, no. 4:23-cv-00517, at 6 (Mar 14, 2023),

[52] Id. at 17.

[53] Id. at 26.

[54] Id. at 27.

[55] Id. at 28.

[56] Id. at 31.

[57] Id. at 32.

[58] Id. at 32-91.

[59] Id.

[60] Id. at 94-101.

[61] Jeremy Pelzer, Ohio’s East Palestine Lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Could Take Years to Resolve, AG Dave Yost Says, CLEVELAND.COM (May 3, 2023), (last visited Aug 15, 2023).

[62] Id.

[63] Id.

[64] Id.

[65] Steven Mufson, DOJ Sues Norfolk Southern over Toxic Train Derailment in Ohio, THE WASHINGTON POST, (Mar 31, 2023),, (last visited Apr 1, 2023).

[66] Justice Department and EPA File Complaint Against Norfolk Southern for Unlawful Discharge of Pollutants and Hazardous Substances in East Palestine Derailment, THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, (Mar 31, 2023),, (last visited Apr 10, 2023).

[67] Sabrina Eaton, Ohio’s U.S. House of Representative Members Introduce Rail Safety Bill in Response to Derailment, CLEVELAND.COM, (Mar 17, 2023), (last visited Apr 11, 2023).

[68] Id.

[69] Id.

[70] Liz Brown-Kaiser and Rose Horowitch, Senators Unveil Rail Safety Bill after Ohio Train Derailment, NBC NEWS, (Mar 1, 2023),, (last visited Apr 11, 2023).

[71] Id.

[72] Id.

[73] Id.

[74] Id.

[75] Id.

[76] S.576, 118th Cong. S 11. (2023), Railway Safety Act of 2023, CONGRESS.GOV,, (last visited Apr 11, 2023).

[77] Matthew Cunningham-Cook and Julia Rock, Corporate Cash Derails Train Safety Bill, THE LEVER, (Aug 3, 2023),, (last visited Aug 20, 2023).

[78] Id.

[79] Id.

[80] Julia Rock, J.D. Vance Helped Lobbyists Weaken His Rail Safety Bill, (Jun 14, 2023), THE LEVER,, (last visited Aug 20, 2023).

[81] Id.

[82] Id.

[83] Id.

[84] Id.

[85] Frank Morris, A Flaming Train Derailment Sparked Political Demands for a New Safety Law. That’s Gone Nowhere, KCUR, (Dec 6, 2023), (last visited Dec 8, 2023).

[86] Id.


[88] G.A.  Res 217 (III) A, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at 25(1), (Dec. 10, 1948).

[89] Dinah Shelton, Human Rights, Environmental Rights, and the Right to Environment, 28 Stan. J. INT’l L. 103 (1991).

[90] Id.

[91] Bryn Caswell, EPA to Begin East Palestine Farm Soil Testing 6 Weeks After Toxic Train Derailment, NEWS 5 CLEVELAND, (Mar 9, 2023), (last visited May 7, 2023).

[92] Id.

[93] Id.

[94] Id.

[95] Dominic Ferrante, Ohio Broker Warns Housing Market in East Palestine Is Hurting, SPECTRUM NEWS 1, (Mar 23, 2023), (last visited May 7, 2023).

[96] Id.

[97] Id.

[98] Id.

[99] Oliver Morrison, Norfolk Southern Agrees to Pay for East Palestine Residents to Relocate During Cleanup, IDEASTREAM PUBLIC MEDIA, (Mar 6, 2023),, (last visited May 6, 2023).

[100] Id.

[101] Supra Ferrante note 95.

[102] George Kent, The Human Right to Disaster Mitigation and Relief, 3 Env’t Hazards 137, 137 (2001).

[103] Id.

[104] Id.

[105] Id.

[106] Vinyl Chloride, NAT’L CANCER INST.,, (last visited Apr 23, 2023).

[107] Id.

[108] Joel Correia, The UN Just Declared A New Human Right, WORLD ECON. F., (Aug 9, 2022),, (last visited May 7, 2023).

[109] G.A. Res. 76/300, ¶ 1 (July 28, 2022).

[110] Id. at ¶ 8.

[111] Scott Dance, Toxic Air Pollutants in East Palestine Could Pose Long-Term Risks, Researchers Say, THE WASHINGTON POST, (Feb 24, 2023),, (last visited May 8, 2023).

[112] Id.

[113] Id.

[114] Id.

[115] Id.

[116] Becky Sullivan, Here’s Why It’s Hard to Clean Up Toxic Waste from the East Palestine Train Derailment, NPR (Mar 3, 2023),, (last visited May 7, 2023).

[117] Id.

[118] Id.

[119] Id.

[120] Id.

[121] Id.

[122] Paige Bennett, East Palestine Train Derailment Killed More Than 43,000 Fish and Animals, Officials Say, USA TODAY, (Feb 24, 2023),, (last visited May 6, 2023).

[123] Id.

[124] Id.

[125] Id.

[126] Portillo Cáceres and Others v. Paraguay, CCPR/C/1226/D/2751/2016, Communication 2751/2016, ESCR-NET, (2020), (last visited Aug 20, 2023).

[127] Id.

[128] Id.

[129] Id.

[130] Jago Wadley and Toby Hill, Toxic Takeaways, GLOB. WITNESS, (Dec 7, 2022),, (last visited Dec 8, 2023).

[131] Id.

[132] Id.