Norfolk Southern, the operator of the cargo train that derailed in the Ohio town of East Palestine in February 2023, has reached a $600 million (£479 million) settlement in principle to resolve a class-action lawsuit related to the incident. Tons of hazardous chemicals spilled during the derailment, the long-term health and environmental impacts of which are still unclear.

The agreement, if approved by the court, will resolve all class action claims within a 20-mile radius from the derailment site and, for those residents who choose to participate, personal injury claims within a 10-mile radius. Norfolk Southern said it will provide additional monetary relief to individuals, including for healthcare and to help qualifying local businesses rebuild.

Back in September, the company announced that it would contribute nearly $4.3 million to overhaul the municipal drinking water system in East Palestine, and that it would compensate residents for any reduction in home values following the derailment.

Beyond the latest settlement, Norfolk Southern says that it has already committed $104 million in community assistance to East Palestine and the surrounding areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania. That figure includes investments in a regional safety training centre, improvements to East Palestine’s city park as well as payments to residents and first responders.