EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WJW) – The CEO of Norfolk Southern is expected to apologize for the massive toxic train derailment in East Palestine when he testifies before Congress Thursday.
In prepared remarks released Wednesday, CEO Alan Shaw said, in part, “I am deeply sorry for the impact this derailment has had on the people of East Palestine and surrounding communities, and I am determined to make it right.”
But some senators say he will have to do much more than just apologize.
“I expect him to own up to his company’s spotty safety culture,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D).
The much anticipated hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.
Some others on the list to testify include Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore, Ohio EPA Director, Senator Sherrod Brown (D), and Senator JD Vance (R).
Vance has called the situation a failure at every level.
“You have a lot of federal officials basically dropping into East Palestine telling residents everything is fine when residents on the ground don’t feel like everything is fine,” said Vance.
Residents are not on the list to testify during these first hearings, but some have traveled to D.C. and will be protesting outside.
River Valley Organizing, based in Columbiana County, arranged for the trip because many members live near the crash site and have been directly impacted by the disaster.
They’ve also organized informational meetings for residents with independent experts whom they think should be allowed to testify too.
“There’s so much misinformation, folks don’t know what to believe,” said Amanda Kiger, co-executive director.
The committee is promising to determine what went wrong and what needs to happen to make sure it never happens again.
In his prepared remarks, Shaw said they’re working around the clock and committed to remediation and monitoring, as well as reimbursements and investments of more than $20 million.
The major railroads together also announced Wednesday plans to improve safety, including adding 1,000 more trackside detectors and hazardous materials training for 20,000 first responders nationwide.
Norfolk Southern will be building a “regional training center” in Ohio.
That pleased Gov. Mike DeWine, but it received a lukewarm reception in D.C.
“I want to know why Norfolk Southern prioritized billions in stock buybacks instead of investing in the safety equipment or their workers,” said Schumer.
“I think, unfortunately, the people of East Palestine have been made to suffer because of it,” said Vance.
This all comes as the NTSB announced they too are expanding their investigation into Norfolk Southern’s safety practices.