EAST PALESTINE, Ohio ( WKBN) – In a letter addressed to four U.S. Senators, including the two from Ohio, the president and CEO of Norfolk Southern has disclosed for the first time plans to compensate homeowners who sell for less because of the train derailment.
“Norfolk Southern has not waited for the judicial process to be completed prior to getting to work on the structure and shape of a real property fund that will compensate homeowners,” wrote Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw.
The letter was sent to, among others, Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance.
In the letter, Shaw writes that Norfolk Southern has contracted with the consulting firm of Alvarez & Marsal “to evaluate the local property market and develop a plan.”
Initially, Norfolk Southern expects to compensate homeowners “within an approximately 5-mile radius of the derailment, and who sell their homes for less than their property’s pre-February 3 appraised value.”
The claims must be submitted through the family assistance center, and Norfolk Southern expects to be “making payments to eligible homeowners within one year.”
Shaw also states that in exchange for compensating homeowners, they must “execute a release of any future claims for property value diminution from the property fund.”
He did not state how long the fund would remain in place but did write that “we are committed to doing it the right way.”
He committed the railroad company to coordinate with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry “as the initial payments are made and the real property fund is implemented.”
Shaw also writes, “This commitment demonstrates that…Norfolk Southern understands that this derailment was not the fault of the people of East Palestine. Norfolk Southern understands that any diminution of value of East Palestine homeowners as a result of the derailment is a significant potential harm to homeowners.”