WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate democrats and republicans grilled the CEO of Norfolk Southern during a hearing on the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment. The train was carrying hazardous chemicals and since the derailment, people who live nearby, including the Darlington Township in Pennsylvania, are concerned about their long-term health and the cleanup efforts.
“Do you commit that Norfolk Southern will be there for as long as it takes to make East Palestine, Ohio, Darlington Township, Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities whole from this disaster,” asked Sen. Tom Carper (D- DE). “Yes or no?”
“I understand that concern,” responded Shaw. “That’s the same concern that is shared with me by the residents of East Palestine and Darlington Township. I’m terribly sorry for the impact this derailment has had on the folks of that community. And yes, it’s my personal commitment that Norfolk Southern has, commitment that we’re going to be there for as long as it takes to help East Palestine thrive and recover.”
During this roughly two-hour Senate hearing Alan Shaw, the CEO of Norfolk Southern continued to apologize for the train derailment near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border nearly a month ago. Although Senator John Fetterman (D- PA) is still getting treatment in a hospital for depression, he demanded Shaw to answers some of his own questions, like why was Pennsylvania Department of Emergency Management and the state’s Environment Department contacted hours after the derailment? And if there is a process in place to contact state agencies if a derailment occurs?
“The process that’s established as part of the Department of Homeland Security presidential directive that was established in 2003,” responded Shaw. “My understanding is Norfolk Southern immediately contacted the National Response Center, which then contacted applicable federal, state and local authorities.”
Ohio’s EPA testified there were gaps in communication within the first couple of days between responding agencies and Norfolk Southern.
“Things could have been handled better in the beginning hours,” said Anne Vogel, Ohio EPA.
Senators said that lack of communication or those communication gaps led to a lot of distrust within the communities impacted by the derailment. Officials did say that communication has cleared up between all parties following the derailment.