WASHINGTON — Norfolk Southern’s chief executive told lawmakers at a Senate hearing Thursday that he “deeply regrets” the consequences of last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. from the accident.
In prepared remarks for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the chief executive, Alan H. Shah said he was committed to “safely, thoroughly and expeditiously cleaning up the site.”
Federal investigators found a wheel bearing in one of the train’s cars was overheating, but didn’t sound the alarm until it passed a sensor far from the derailment. Safety experts say the disaster could have been avoided if more sensors had been placed closer to the train tracks.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday it has opened a special investigation into safety practices at Norfolk Southern. Another freight train from the company derailed near Springfield, Ohio on Saturday. Norfolk Southern’s accident rate has increased over the past four years. According to a recent company presentation.
Last week, lawmakers from both parties introduced legislation in both houses of Congress that would tighten regulations on trains carrying hazardous materials. But as the details surrounding the East Palestine train derailment are under investigation, the response on Capitol Hill has been marked by intense partisanship and finger-pointing. It’s unclear whether the legislation will gain the support to pass in the Republican-led House and how quickly it will be considered in the Senate.
In East Palestine, residents have complained of a slow federal response and uncertainty about what precautions will be taken to ensure their safety. They pointed out that shortly after the evacuation order was lifted, trains started rumbling through the city again.
Residents worry that Norfolk Southern won’t take responsibility for the damage in the town of about 4,700 people and that they’ll forget as the weeks go by.
Norfolk Southern has committed more than $20 million to support East Palestine and Mr. According to Shaw’s prepared remarks, it has taken steps to increase security by increasing its network of early warning sensors.
“We are making progress in the recovery and know our work is not done,” he plans to say. “I promise we won’t be done until we fix it.”
Senator Thomas R., Democrat of Delaware and chairman of the committee. Garber, in his opening remarks, said the company’s financial liabilities would not be enough to cover the cost of the cleanup.
“We must also ensure that affected communities receive the resources and support they need,” he said.