Top Line

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said Thursday that he was “deeply sorry” for the impact of last month’s derailment of a train carrying toxic materials in East Palestine, Ohio, and in his first public appearance earlier Admitted that the safety standards of the train were not adequate. The company faces scrutiny as Senate and lawmakers consider tighter railroad industry regulations.

important facts

- Advertisement -

Shaw told members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the rail line would clean up the site “safely, thoroughly and promptly”.

Shaw also acknowledged at the hearing, “It is clear that the safety mechanisms were not adequate,” citing a federal report that found the train’s three-person crew suffered an overheat just before its 38 cars derailed. The alert was for wheel bearings – a discovery that raised questions about railway safety standards.

- Advertisement -

Lawmakers took aim at the company: In a written statement, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) — who is in a Washington, D.C.-area hospital — said he “expects that Norfolk’s gross negligence caused Southern will respond to this disaster with real policy solutions that will hold Norfolk Southern and other similar companies accountable.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.V.) also argued the public “deserves more transparency” from the Environmental Protection Agency after the material spilled into the air and water, asking why it took EPA administrators weeks to clean up drinking water. that the residents were safe?” EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore responded that the agency was on the ground within hours of the derailment and conducted tests including “robust air quality testing.”

important quotes

"I've been [to East Palestine] Personally, I've seen [residents'] Eyes, I've heard their concerns, I've been in their family rooms—I'm committed to that community and Norfolk Southern is, too," Shaw said.

chief critic

"If Norfolk Southern had cared a little more about safety and a little less about its profits, and a little more about the people of Ohio and a little less about its officers and shareholders, it would have The accidents would not have been as bad or might not have happened at all,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Thursday.


MPs on both sides of the aisle have strongly criticized Norfolk Southern in the wake of the derailment in East Palestine. Republicans have grilled the Biden administration, and especially Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, for waiting three weeks to visit the derailment site, where photos and videos showed toxic material pouring into local creeks. Buttigieg acknowledged in response that he could visit sooner, but argued that three weeks was ideal. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden blamed former President Donald Trump for blocking railway safety rules, including an Obama-era proposal that would have required advanced brakes on trains carrying hazardous materials — though some of those rules apply to the Norfolk Southern train. but do not apply. derailed, according to a Washington Post Report.

main background

The Norfolk Southern train was carrying toxic materials, including vinyl chloride, when it derailed in the eastern Palestinian city on February 3, sparking outrage from residents and congressional leaders on both sides about the release of toxic chemicals into the air and groundwater Went. A preliminary report The National Transportation Safety Board found that the crew of a Norfolk Southern train was alerted to an overheated wheel bearing before the alarm was raised to slow the train. According to reports, the train was running slightly below the speed limit of 50 mph at the time of the derailment, and three crew members, including an apprentice, were on board. On Tuesday, the rail line announced plans to implement a new six-point safety plan based on the findings in the report. That plan includes steps to increase railway exams, install hot wheel bearing detectors and accelerate its inspection program.

tangent line

Earlier this week, a Norfolk Southern conductor was killed when a dump truck collided with the front of a train at a steelmaking plant in Cleveland, prompting a federal investigation. This was the third incident involving a Norfolk Southern train in just over a month, following another derailment the previous week in Springfield, Ohio, northeast of Dayton, in which 20 train cars derailed, though no injuries were reported in that derailment. did not occur and there were no toxic materials on board.

Ohio train derailment: Crew received alerts about overheated wheel bearings and applied emergency brakes, officials say (Forbes)

Norfolk Southern announces new safety plan to help prevent future train derailments (Forbes)

Norfolk Southern conductor killed in third Ohio incident this year - weeks after massive chemical spill (Forbes)

White House demands GOP, ex-Trump officials apologize to East Palestine for toxic rail leak (Forbes)