RAVENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – Months after a 22-car Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ravenna Township, some residents are accusing the railroad of leaving them with the mess.
Crushed rail cars remain lying near the tracks with large metal parts strewn about everywhere, alongside piles of debris and dozens of wayward railroad ties.
That doesn’t include damages done to some residents’ personal property.
“They started in December cleaning, and as you see, they still haven’t finished,” said Chuck Knight, who lives on S. Prospect Street next to the tracks.
Knight was outside on Nov. 1 and witnessed the derailment, standing less than 20 feet away from the tracks.
“I hear a ‘bang’ and when I turn and look, I saw a car with fire all the way underneath it,” said Knight.
Fortunately, neither he nor his neighbor and friend were injured.
However, their property was extensively damaged from a demolished shed to a smashed boat and damaged garage.
The septic system that the men share was obliterated.
For months now, it’s been spewing septic waste into the yard and flowing down along the tracks and into neighboring properties.
“The septic tank, the leach bed is destroyed, our water dumps out on the ground. As you can see right here, nothing but septic water coming out on the ground. That’s not rain, that’s septic water,” said Knight, pointing to what looked like a pond.
He says damages to the septic system alone are estimated at $20,000.
He and his neighbor have tried calling Norfolk Southern but have been unable to get any assistance from the railroad.
“You’d think that would be a priority to get that cleaned up and restored back to normal,” said Jim DiPaola, Ravenna Township trustee.
DiPaola has been making calls also without any success.
“So we’re going to try alternative methods. We’re going through the governors office and other contacts,” said DiPaola. “It is a very serious health hazard.”
There are other concerns as train derailments seem to be piling up across the state with five derailments in under six months.
The men say they realize the East Palestine disaster requires a lot of attention, but they also don’t want Ravenna stuck footing the bill.
They say given the railroad’s response and track record, there are other serious safety concerns.
“I’m terrified another train’s going to come off these rails,” said Knight. “ They’ve been out here eight different times working on these tracks and it’s scary.”
FOX 8 reached out to Norfolk Southern but didn’t receive a response.
A representative from the NTSB is scheduled to tour the damage on Wednesday, March 8.