Norfolk Southern CEO apologizes for train derailment in East Palestine
WASHINGTON — The chief executive of Norfolk Southern told lawmakers at a Senate hearing on Thursday that he “deeply regrets” the impact of last month’s train derailment in eastern Palestine, Ohio, as residents continue to express deep concerns about the potential environmental damage from the accident .
In prepared remarks before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Chief Executive Officer Alan H. Shaw said he was “determined to clean up the site safely, thoroughly and urgently,” adding that he was “determined to do it right.” “.
Federal investigators found that a wheel bearing on one of the train’s cars had heated as the train traveled through Ohio, but that no alarm sounded to warn the crew until it passed a sensor not far from the spot , where it derailed. Safety experts say the crew could have averted the disaster had more sensors been closer together along the route the train took.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it had launched a special investigation into safety practices in Norfolk Southern. Another company freight train derailed near Springfield, Ohio, on Saturday. Norfolk Southern’s accident rate has increased over the past four years, such a current company presentation.
Last week, lawmakers from both parties in both houses of Congress introduced legislation that would tighten restrictions on trains carrying hazardous materials. But the reaction on Capitol Hill was one of intense partisanship and blame-giving as the details of the East Palestine derailment are still being worked out. It also remains unclear whether the bill will have the support to pass in a Republican-led House and how soon it could be considered in the Senate.
In eastern Palestine, residents have complained about what they say is a slow federal response and a lack of clarity about what arrangements are being made to ensure their safety. They have pointed out that shortly after the evacuation order was lifted, trains began to rumble through the city.
Residents are concerned that Norfolk Southern will not be held responsible for the damage done to the town of around 4,700 and that as the weeks go by they will be forgotten.
Norfolk Southern has pledged more than $20 million in support of eastern Palestine and has taken steps to improve security by beefing up its network of early warning sensors, according to Mr Shaw’s prepared remarks.
“We are making progress on recovery and know our work is not done yet,” he plans to say. “I promise we’re not done until we get it right.”
Senator Thomas R. Carper, a Delaware Democrat who chairs the committee, said in his opening remarks that the company’s financial commitments may not be sufficient to cover the cost of the cleanup.
“We also need to make sure affected communities get the resources and support they need,” he said.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/09/us/politics/ohio-derailment-norfolk-southern-senate-hearing.html Norfolk Southern CEO apologizes for train derailment in East Palestine