EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WJW) — Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw was seen in East Palestine on Saturday following the community’s criticism of the company’s response to the train derailment on Feb. 3.
“I’m here to support the community,” he told a reporter before driving away in an SUV, saying he was on his way to meet with community members, according to a report from FOX News.
Saturday was the second time Shaw visited the village since the derailment, according to a release from Norfolk Southern.
After visiting with residents and also crews who are working around-the-clock at the incident site, he released the following statement:
“I returned to East Palestine today to meet with local leaders, first responders, and a group of Norfolk Southern employees who live in the area. I started the morning walking the derailment site to see our clean-up progress first-hand. We are working closely with Ohio environmental and health agencies on the long-term plan to protect the environment and the community. We are going to do the work thoroughly, completely, and safely.
“I also went to the home of one of our Norfolk Southern railroaders who lives in East Palestine, where I talked with a group of his friends and neighbors. I appreciated the chance to hear their concerns and I asked them how Norfolk Southern could help. They want to know we are going to do the right thing for their community, and I am determined to earn their trust.
“I had a series of meetings with Mayor Conaway and several community leaders, Congressman Bill Johnson, and Fire Chief Drabick, along with several of his first responders. They are frustrated by the amount of misinformation circulating about their community and are eager to show that the air and water are safe.
“In every conversation today, I shared how deeply sorry I am this happened to their home. We are going to do the right things to help East Palestine recover and thrive again.”
Earlier this week, hundreds of people showed up at a public meeting to voice concerns and get answers from not only state and local leaders but also railroad operator Norfolk Southern. But representatives of the railroad, including Shaw, were absent, saying they were worried about physical threats.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was upset by the no-show and said that Shaw needs to go to East Palestine and answer questions.
Shaw shared a letter on Twitter saying he will not walk away from East Palestine that he hears the frustrated voices of its residents.
“But our work is far from over,” the letter marked Feb. 16 said. “As we continue site clean-up, NTSB moves forward with its investigation, and necessary environmental testing is carried out, I promise to keep you updated every step of the way.”
At least five lawsuits have been filed against the railroad in the two weeks that have now passed since the freight train carrying a variety of hazardous chemicals derailed.
Early next week, the state plans to open a medical clinic in the village to evaluate those who are worried and evaluate their symptoms, DeWine said.
Trump announced on Saturday he plans to visit the area on Wednesday for residents in need of help.