WASHINGTON, D.C. — Crews in Alabama were busy cleaning up the mess from a Norfolk Southern train derailment Thursday as the company’s CEO took questions from Congress about a previous toxic derailment in Ohio.
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Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said many times in Thursday’s hearing that his company will do all it takes to help people impacted by the derailments, but some lawmakers weren’t buying it.
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Inside a packed hearing room, Shaw faced questions from members of congress for the first time since the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio last month. He began with an apology and a promise.
“I am determined to make this right,” Shaw testified in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “Norfolk Southern will clean the site safely, thoroughly and with urgency. You have my personal commitment.”
📺 WATCH LIVE: Chairman @SenatorCarper leads a Senate EPW hearing to address the environmental and public health threats from the Norfolk Southern train derailment and chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio. https://t.co/fV019lYE1d— Senate EPW Democrats (@EPWCmte) March 9, 2023
Shaw added the company is learning from the incident, already making changes and working with officials to make railroads safer.
He also insisted it’s currently safe to live in East Palestine.
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“The air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink,” Shaw said.
It wasn’t enough to appease the visibly frustrated Senators on the panel, with each being critical of the company and Shaw over safety while questioning the company’s billion-dollar finances.
“With all due respect, Mr. Shaw, you sound like a politician here,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said.
Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham even questioned whether Shaw feared for his safety.
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“Can we count on you and your team of lobbyists to push for safety improvements rather than lobbying against those improvements,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) asked. “I want to know will your team lobby for safety improvements?”
Shaw responded by talking about how his company has spent tens of millions of dollars to help the people of Ohio impacted by the derailment. He said those funds were just a down payment for what’s to come.
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