Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw is set to apologize before Congress Thursday for the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
“I deeply regret the impact this derailment has had on the people of East Palestine and the surrounding communities, and I am determined to fix it,” Shaw will tell the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, according to a transcript. of his prepared remarks released in advance.
“We will clean the area safely, thoroughly, and with urgency. We make progress every day. Working now under the recent US EPA Unilateral Executive Order, we have submitted a long-term removal plan that will guide our comprehensive community water and air testing program, and the ground,” he says. “These tests are driven by science, and we will continue to share results transparently. The Ohio and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies, as well as other local agencies, continuously monitor air and water quality in East Palestine and report that both air and water are safe.”
Shaw said to consider the financial help from the rail operator as just an “advance”.
NORFOLK SOUTHERN PILER DEAD AFTER TRUCK COLLIDES WITH DEVELOPMENT TRUCK IN CLEVELAND, OHIO, NTSB INVESTIGATE
“Financial assistance cannot change what happened, but it is an important part of doing the right thing. To date, we have committed more than $20 million in compensation and investments in total, including helping more than 4,200 families through the Family Center Aid located in East Palestine,” he will say. “Supporting first responders has been a particular area of focus and our contributions include more than $3 million to assist the East Palestine Fire Department. I would like to again express my deep admiration for the first responders from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who responded to the derailment.”
“I want to be clear: this financial assistance is just an advance,” the statement said. “I met with community leaders, business owners, school officials, clergy and others to begin identifying ways we can invest in the future prosperity of East Palestine and supports the long-term needs of its people. We will continue to invest in East Palestine for as long as it takes to help the community recover and thrive.
Shaw will testify that Norfolk Southern has already initiated “a number of immediate steps to enhance safety” based on the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report. “We look forward to working with the NTSB as it continues its investigation into the root cause of the accident as well as its broader investigation,” he says.
ANOTHER OHIO TRAIN DEROLLMENT IN SPRINGFILL INCLUDES NO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, CLEARANCE, OFFICIALS SAY
The NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration both announced investigations this week into Norfolk Southern’s safety culture. The NTSB said it will review five major accidents starting in December 2021.
The committee will also hear from Ohio and Pennsylvania senators — Republican JD Vance and Democrats Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey — who are pushing new safety regulations called the Railroad Safety Act of 2023. Other witnesses include EPA regional administrator USA Debra Shore, Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel, Ohio River Valley Sewerage Commission Executive Director and Chief Engineer Richard Harrison, and Beaver County Emergency Services Director and Hazardous Materials Chief Eric Brewer.
“I want to hear what they did wrong, what mistakes they made,” said committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper. “There was a lot of criticism for what they were doing and for him to answer that criticism on the record.”
Carper joined the committee’s top Republican, Sen. Shelley Capito of West Virginia, on a call with reporters Wednesday to emphasize that they will work in a bipartisan manner “to hold accountable the communities and people who have been affected.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Noting that a train derailed in her home state of West Virginia on Wednesday, Capito cast the hearing as the Senate’s first of many steps on rail safety and emergency response. The new safety regulations will likely have to be considered in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.