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Norfolk Southern CEO to tell Congress he is ‘deeply sorry’ for East Palestine derailment

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw will tell lawmakers Thursday that he is “deeply sorry” for the derailment of a train in East Palestine, Ohio, and that he is “determined to make it right,” according to written Senate testimony obtained by NBC News. is determined”.

“We will clean up the site safely, thoroughly and with a sense of urgency. We are making progress every day,” Shaw is expected to tell members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, according to testimony.

On the night of February 3, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine with a population of about 4,700 near the Pennsylvania border.

A fire was started, and residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. Officials said the railroad did a “controlled infestation” of cars that contained vinyl chloride to prevent an explosion and the contents burned.

On Thursday, the Norfolk Southern CEO is also expected to stress the importance of financial assistance to affected residents, noting that the company is “committed to reimbursing and investing a total of more than $20 million” allocated to families and first responders.

IMAGE: Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw speaks to reporters on February 21, 2023, near the site where a freight train derailed on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.
Alan Shaw, president and CEO of Norfolk Southern, talks to reporters near the site of the derailment on February 21 in East Palestine, Ohio.Matt Freed / AP File

“I want to be clear: This financial aid is only a down payment,” Shaw would say, according to the testimony.

“I have met with community leaders, business owners, school officials, clergy and others to identify ways to invest in the future prosperity of East Palestine and support the long-term needs of its people,” he said. ” “We will continue to invest in East Palestine as long as it helps the community to recover and thrive.”

Vinyl chloride is a flammable gas associated with an increased risk of cancer. Some residents have complained of irritation and other health effects, and some have said they were afraid to bathe or otherwise use the water.

More East Palestine derailment coverage

The US Environmental Protection Agency is conducting aerial surveillance, among other steps. The agency has said it detected low levels of compound 1,4-dichlorobenzene that are typical of ambient background concentrations.

Officials said soil is also being removed and sent to sites for treatment and disposal.

Shaw is expected to tell a Senate committee on Thursday that “Norfolk Southern is working around the clock to address the remaining issues and monitor any impacts to public health and the environment,” according to written testimony.

Parts of the Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, are still on fire February 4, 2023.
Parts of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed on February 3 following a February 4 fire in East Palestine, Ohio. Jean J Pushkar/AP File

According to testimony, Shaw would end his prepared remarks by pledging to set things right.

“I want to reiterate how deeply sorry we are for the impact of this derailment on East Palestine, the surrounding communities and everyone who has been affected,” he plans to say.

The testimony read, “We are making progress in the recovery and know that our work is not yet done.” That’s right.”

The 150-car Norfolk Southern Railway train was traveling from Madison, Illinois to Conway, Pennsylvania when it derailed shortly before 9 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the derailment, has said that vinyl chloride was found in five of the derailed cars.

Vinyl chloride is used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics for packaging materials and a range of electronic, medical and construction products.

A cause has not been determined. The NTSB’s preliminary report stated that an overheated wheel bearing was 253 degrees hotter than air temperature.

The NTSB has identified the derailed rail car, and the agency said surveillance video “showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stages of overheat failure prior to the derailment.”



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