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Casey, Shaw Testify at U.S. Senate Norfolk Southern Hearing

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. was one of three U.S. senators to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works committee hearing on the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday.

Casey spoke along with Ohio senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance and highlighted the first-hand experiences of residents, first responders and business owners in Darlington, Pa., a borough in northwestern Beaver County that is located just seven miles from East Palestine.

He challenged the Norfolk Southern Corporation and its President and CEO, Alan Shaw, to step up and commit to fully supporting Pennsylvania residents for years to come, and called for the passage of the Railway Safety Act to prevent future, man-made disasters like the East Palestine train derailment.

“The people of Darlington didn’t ask for this disaster, nor do they deserve it. They don’t deserve the physical, emotion, and financial toll the derailment has taken,” Casey said. “The Railway Safety Act is a serious first step towards preventing future crises from ever happening again.”

As a lead cosponsor of the Railway Safety Act, Casey has been pushing for action to improve rail safety protocols, such as enhancing safety procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials, establishing requirements for wayside defect detectors, creating a permanent requirement for railroads to operate with at least two-person crews, increasing fines for wrongdoing committed by rail carriers, and more.

Casey is co-sponsoring the bill alongside fellow Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman, as well as Brown, Vance, Marco Rubio of florida and Josh Hawley of Missouri.

“Norfolk Southern has a moral and legal responsibility to the people of Darlington and I’m challenging them to step up and commit to supporting Pennsylvanians that have had their lives up-ended as a result from their disaster,” Senator Casey said. “Norfolk Southern should stand up and support the Railway Safety Act to truly show they never want this to happen again.

“I have pressed Norfolk Southern on a number of issues since the derailment, but I want to raise one issue in particular. Along with Senator Fetterman and Rep. Chris Deluzio, I’ve pushed Norfolk Southern to focus on the basic help that Darlington Township residents are going to need. And though they responded quickly, their response was inadequate in meeting the needs of Pennsylvania residents.”

Shaw began his testimony with an apology to the individuals and communities hurt by the derailment and said that Norfolk Southern will work to help East Palestine recover.

“I want to begin today by expressing how deeply sorry I am for the impact this derailment has had on the residents of East Palestine and the surrounding communities,” he said. “I am determined to make this right. Norfolk Southern will clean the site safely, thoroughly and with urgency. You have my personal commitment. Norfolk Southern will get the job done and help East Palestine thrive.”

Shaw outlined a number of financial commitments as part of that effort. “In terms of community support, we have announced direct investments of over $21 million,” he said, adding, “We committed $7.5 million to Pennsylvania for a community relief fund.”

“All of this is just a down payment,” he said. “We will be in the community for as long as it takes.”

Later in the hearing, Shaw was asked if he would commit to supporting the bipartisan bill. Shaw wouldn’t endorse all of the provisions of the bill, but he said, “we are committed to the legislative intent to make rail safer.”

The bill includes a number of provisions to boost safety procedures to prevent future incidents, including “new safety requirements and procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials like vinyl chloride,” a requirement for advance notice from railways to state emergency response officials about what their trains are carrying, requirements to prevent blocked railway crossings and new rules for train size and weight, according to a statement from the senators.

Shaw said there are “a number of provisions that we would absolutely support,” including tighter railroad tank car standards. Other policies Shaw said Norfolk Southern supports include “training and more funding for first responders.”

Earlier in the day, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama just prior to Shaw’s testimony.

One Response

  1. Railroads ruled America for years, as the most corrupt institutions of 19th century.


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