WASHINGTON D.C. (WJW) – Members of a U.S. Senate Committee working to improve rail safety focused their attention on Wednesday once again on East Palestine and the toxic derailment that happened there on February 3rd, hearing testimony from an East Palestine resident.

“I’m here to put a face on this disaster,” said Misti Allison. Allison said she will never forget the night of the derailment when she could see a huge fireball from her driveway.

“People and animals in my community are sick, the EPA tells us the data is fine while independent researchers say there are high levels of carcinogens all around us.  Who do we trust?” she testified.

“This preventable accident has put a scarlet letter on our town. People don’t want to come here, businesses are struggling, our home values are plummeting. Even if we wanted to leave, we couldn’t. Who would buy our homes?”

Among the others testifying on Wednesday was NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy who told the senate that the incident would be meticulously investigated by the agency, and while a final report is months away, the one thing she could say for certain was that the derailment was 100 percent preventable.

Homendy seemed to advocate for components of a rail safety bill that is being proposed by both Ohio senators J.D. Vance, a Republican, and Sherrod Brown, a Democrat suggesting changes to the definition of a highly hazardous train and saying people deserve to know what chemicals are moving through their communities.

She also shared some startling information about the incident regarding cameras on the train.

“In the East Palestine derailment, the locomotive was equipped with an inward-facing camera, however, since the locomotive was put immediately back into service following the accident, the data was overwritten. That means the recorder only provided about fifteen minutes of data before the derailment and five minutes after,” said Homendy.

The Senate Committee also heard from Ohio Governor Mike Dewine, testifying virtually from the library at East Palestine High School.

Dewine said that at 8:55 p.m. on February 3rd life in East Palestine changed dramatically for everyone living there from the way they knew it.

“Members of the committee, Norfolk Southern has an obligation to restore this community it was their train, their tracks, their accident, they’re responsible for this tragedy,” said DeWine

“Norfolk Southern must do everything in its power to put everything back in East Palestine as it was before 8:55 Friday, February 3rd the people of this village have a right, they have a right to get their lives back they have a right to get their community back,” he added.

The governor announced on Wednesday an agreement with a hospital in East Liverpool to establish a permanent clinic in East Palestine available to residents of the community who have health concerns.

For the second time, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw also testified, insisting he runs a safe railroad.

Shaw once again apologized for the disaster in East Palestine, vowing to make things right in the community and testifying that his company has already spent more than $20 million on the cleanup and has given more than $10 million in reimbursements to area families for their expenses related to the derailment

The questioning between himself and several senators once again became somewhat confrontational.

Asked repeatedly by Senator Peter Welsh of Vermont whose responsibility it was to prevent this preventable accident, Shaw tried to explain that the focus of the investigation has been on a bearing on a rail car that is not owned by the railroad.

When pressed for an answer, however, Shaw answered, “Senator we are responsible for the safety of our network.”

His testimony was often contradicted by that of a representative of a rail worker’s union in Ohio who told senators that the company was placing on-time arrival of their trains ahead of safety.

“Several days after East Palestine, we almost had another incident in the Cleveland area on Norfolk Southern,” said Clyde Whitaker, Legislative Director, Ohio State SMART-TD.

Whitaker said a dispatcher told the crew on the train to continue on their route despite their concerns that something was wrong on their train.

“If it were not for an eastbound train passing them and instructing them, ‘Hey! Your train’s on fire, stop your train,’” Whitaker testified.

But Shaw insisted his company places a high priority on safety, vowing to support many of the elements of the bi-partisan rail safety bill and saying the company would be adding more “hot boxes” along their rail lines to detect problems on trains.

He also discussed some additional measures Norfolk Southern is planning to help the residents of East Palestine.

“We are in the planning stages of developing a long-term medical compensation fund, a property value assurance program and a longer-term water testing program,” he testified.