Norfolk Southern earns recognition for sustainable initiatives in Virginia

Norfolk Southern has again been recognized as a River Star Business by the Elizabeth River Project for its environmental preservation and pollution mitigation in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area.

During the annual River Star Business Luncheon last month, the nonprofit recognized Norfolk Southern with two awards for its commitment to nature-based solutions and sustainable practices. More than 160 fellow River Star Businesses were also honored at the event.

Pictured from Norfolk Southern: Thomas Novitske, Troy Carpenter, Adam Motsinger, and Darren Shonkwiler alongside Elizabeth River Project team members
Pictured from Norfolk Southern: Thomas Novitske, Troy Carpenter, Adam Motsinger, and Darren Shonkwiler alongside Elizabeth River Project team members

"These acknowledgements further recognize our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability across communities where our employees live and work,” said Norfolk Southern Chief Sustainability Officer Josh Raglin. “The projects were made possible by the close working relationships across Norfolk Southern’s Environmental, Sustainability, Real Estate, and local Operations teams. Our goal is to continue implementing creative business solutions that benefit and protect the environment, our communities, and our business.”

Lambert’s Point, Norfolk Southern's critical marine terminal in Norfolk, was awarded a three-star Model Level designation and “Sustained Distinguished Performance” accolade. The Project cited the outstanding pollution prevention and wildlife habitat enhancements achieved through the ongoing living shoreline project. Concerns over significant shoreline erosion along the nearby Elizabeth River prompted Norfolk Southern to partner with the Elizabeth River Project in late 2019 to develop a nearly 9-acre living shoreline to stabilize the area.

One notable aspect of the shoreline restoration project involved the placement of 20,000 live oysters on-site to aid in water purification. A mature adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, contributing to the anticipated filtration and water quality improvements of over 1 million gallons of water daily once the oysters reach maturity.

Additionally, Norfolk Southern has implemented a stormwater recycling system at Lambert’s Point, collecting, treating, and reusing stormwater for business processes, saving the city 10 to 15 million gallons of water annually. Lambert’s Point was also recognized in 2021 as the Inside Business River Star Hall of Fame winner, an accolade bestowed upon a single business annually that best exemplifies the spirit of the River Star business program.

Moreover, the living shoreline at Lambert’s Point recently received approval and certification as a nutrient bank from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality. This designation enables Norfolk Southern to generate more than 10,000 pounds of nitrogen, 2,000 pounds of phosphorus, and approximately 3.5 million pounds of sediment credits. These credits allow Norfolk Southern to fund restoration efforts, continue to protect and preserve the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, and offset any impacts of development.

Also acknowledged during the luncheon was Norfolk Southern’s Portlock Intermodal Yard, which earned a one-star Commitment Level designation for its stormwater pond clearing project. This initiative, spanning two years, will mitigate flooding in the Portlock Yard and nearby streets by upgrading and maintaining existing stormwater ponds. That work included debris removal, bank stabilization, and catch basin repairs. Together, they will help reduce flood risks and improve water quality for the local community and Norfolk Southern employees. In addition to stormwater maintenance to mitigate flooding risks, Norfolk Southern upgraded existing lighting to low-voltage LED, reducing energy consumption in the Yard.