CEO of Norfolk Southern Visits Toxic Train Crash Site in Ohio

The CEO of Norfolk Southern rail company has finally visited the small Ohio town where a train derailed earlier this month, creating a toxic environmental disaster.

Company CEO Alan Shaw vowed that Norfolk Southern “will be working tirelessly every day to get East Palestine back on its feet as soon as possible.”

He made the pledge while visiting the eastern Ohio village over the weekend.

East Palestine is the site where a Norfolk Southern train derailed on February 3, sending toxic chemicals into the air and onto the ground.

“I am here to support the community,” Shaw said in a February 17 statement.

“We know we will be judged by our actions, and we are taking this accountability and responsibility very seriously.”

Shaw published an open letter to East Palestine residents on February 16.

“We will not walk away, East Palestine.

“When I visited East Palestine last week, you told me how the train derailment has upended your lives and how concerned you are about the safety of your air, water, and land.

“Many of you have also reached out to Norfolk Southern to share your fears, your anger, and your frustration.

“I hear you. We hear you.”

Shaw added, “[Norfolk Southern] will stay here for as long as it takes to ensure your safety and to help East Palestine recover and thrive.”

He said that “crews are cleaning the site thoroughly, responsibly, and safely,” and that the company’s Family Assistance Center “is helping community members meet immediate needs.”

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Shaw also announced, “Together with local health officials, we have implemented a comprehensive testing program to ensure the safety of East Palestine’s water, air, and soil.

“And we have established a $1 million community support fund as a down payment on our commitment to help rebuild.

“I know there are still a lot of questions without answers.

“I know you’re tired. I know you’re worried. We will not let you down.”

On February 3, an eastbound Norfolk Southern Railway train of 151 cars derailed in East Palestine.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), “38 rail cars derailed, and a fire ensued which damaged an additional 12 cars.”

“There were 20 total hazardous material cars in the train consist—11 of which derailed,” an NTSB statement read.

Fears escalated in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

Seeking to avoid an explosion, officials decided to release and burn vinyl chloride from five rail cars, which sent flames and black smoke billowing into the sky once more.

Carcinogenic vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make PVC pipes and other products, has received extensive attention as part of the emergency.

The National Cancer Institute notes that vinyl chloride has been linked to cancers of the brain, lungs, blood, lymphatic system, and liver.

A February 10 letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Norfolk Southern also mentions other potentially hazardous chemicals in the derailed tankers.

It specifically notes the presence of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate.

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway told residents at a Feb. 16 town hall that there were limited choices to address the chemical spill after the crash.

“There were two options: We either detonate those tanks, or they detonate themselves,” Conaway said.

“Yes, harmful chemicals went into the air. I am truly sorry, but that is the only option we had.

“If we didn’t do that, then they were going to blow up, and we were going to have shrapnel all across this town.”

The suspected cause of the derailment is a mechanical issue with a rail car axle, according to the NTSB.

A video shows a wheel bearing overheating just before the crash, the NTSB noted.

The NTSB said it expects to release a preliminary report within about two weeks.

Residents expressed frustration at the town hall because of what many people called “a lack of transparency.”

Representatives from Norfolk Southern were originally scheduled to attend, but the company backed out earlier on February 16.

“Today, we hoped to join local, state, and federal officials at a town hall to update the East Palestine community on the steps we are taking to thoroughly, responsibly, and safely clean up the accident site and to provide the latest results from ongoing water and air testing,” a Norfolk Southern statement explained.

“We also wanted to be available to provide information on resources from our Family Assistance Center.

“At the same time, we know that many are rightfully angry and frustrated right now. Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties.

“With that in mind, Norfolk Southern will not be in attendance this evening.

“We want to continue our dialogue with the community and address their concerns, and our people will remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents.”

State and federal officials have repeatedly said that testing shows that the air and water in East Palestine are safe.

Since the derailment, numerous East Palestine residents have complained of headaches, skin rashes, blood in the stool, and vomiting, among other ailments.

At least 3,500 fish have been killed in various creeks in East Palestine and the Columbiana County area from the derailment’s chemical spill, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported.

Before the controlled burn happened, Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine implored East Palestine residents to evacuate, calling the situation a matter “of life and death.”

On February 8, a few days later, he held a press conference announcing that the evacuation order had been lifted and residents could return to their homes.

Minutes after that press briefing, Norfolk Southern trains resumed their routes through East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern is already facing multiple lawsuits involving the East Palestine derailment.

On February 17, Norfolk Southern said that it has paid more than $2.2 million directly to more than 1,530 families and businesses to cover evacuation expenses.

The railway is offering a $1,000 “inconvenience” check to any person with an East Palestine zip code of 44413.

Norfolk Southern has said that the compensation would not prevent residents from being involved in legal action against the company in the future.

Don Trump Jr. announced on Twitter on February 17 that his father, President Donald Trump, would visit East Palestine on Feb. 22.

Another town hall meeting is scheduled for that date, though the time and location have not been announced.

The White House said on Friday that Democrat President Joe Biden doesn’t have plans to visit East Palestine.

Biden is currently in Ukraine pledging more money to the Ukrainian government.

It’s unknown whether Shaw or Norfolk Southern representatives will attend the upcoming town hall meeting.

READ MORE: Oily Chemicals Found in Ohio Creek after Train Derailment: ‘Dead Fish Throughout This Water – This Is Disgusting’

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By Nick R. Hamilton

Nick has a broad background in journalism, business, and technology. He covers news on cryptocurrency, traditional assets, and economic markets.

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