Norfolk Southern CEO takes questions from Ohio Senators about toxic East Palestine derailment
The CEO of the railroad that has seen five trains derail in Ohio since October – including the toxic derailment in East Palestine in February – was at the Statehouse Tuesday.
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw took questions from members of a Senate committee set up after that derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
Shaw apologized to members of the Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety for the derailment, which he called a traumatic event. He also said he will personally push more federal rail safety regulations, but that doesn't include all of those regulations in bipartisan bills from Ohio’s two Senators and 11 of Ohio's Congressmembers.
"I'm gonna go to the Hill, and I'm going to express a full-throated endorsement for many of the safety provisions that are in the Vance-Brown bill and in the Johnson-Sykes bill," Shaw said.
There were three crewmembers on the East Palestine derailment. Ohio's transportation budget includes some rail safety measures, including a requirement of at least two crew members. The rail industry has said passing that at the state level is unconstitutional because it could interfere with interstate commerce, so lawmakers have said they want Congress to enact that, among other safety proposals.
But when asked about mandatory two person crews, Shaw said he hasn’t seen data that directly links crew size to derailments.
"We're data-driven. And we're going to follow the science. And at this point, I've not seen any data that provides a direct link between crew size and derailments," Shaw said.
Shaw also said Norfolk Southern has spent $30 million in East Palestine – the state and federal government are suing the railroad to ensure it pays the full costs of the cleanup.