Pennsylvania committee interviews Norfolk Southern president

Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw appeared before a Pennsylvania State Senate committee on Monday. Shaw opened by apologizing for last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. He assured lawmakers that his company is committed to cleaning up. “Norfolk Southern is here for the long haul, and we won’t be finished until we make this right,” he said. Shaw also said an NTSB investigation showed the train was moving at a safe speed and the operators acted appropriately, but he also said there is always from for improvement and improving safety. Much of the questioning centered on who decided to vent chemicals at the crash site. Shaw said that was decided by unified command, with the incident commander, who he said was the local fire chief, signing off on it. One exchange went like this:Sen. Doug Mastriano: “It’s not a hard question. Yeah, there’s a lot of input. There’s a lot of staff. There’s a lot of ‘experts,’ but who’s the one that said, ‘We’re going to do this’?” Shaw: “Senator, ultimately the decision falls under the incident commander.” Mastriano: “And that was the fire chief of East Palestine? You’re saying he was the trigger guy? He was the one that said, ‘OK, we’ re going to make this happen’ after receiving all the input.”Shaw: “Yes, senator, under the structure of unified command.”Despite environmental and health concerns raised by those who live in the area of ​​the controlled release, Shaw said testing by environmental agencies showed the air was safe during the process. But many lawmakers and others at the hearing were frustrated by Shaw’s testimony. One union leader said the incident showed more safety requirements need to be in place for rail companies.”Now it’s a public safety issue.It genuinely is a public safety issue and it’s only going to get worse from her e,” said Paul Pokrowka, with SMART Union. The Shapiro administration said it plans to have a long-term physical presence in Beaver County to help residents impacted by the derailment. Starting this week, staff from the Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Health will be onsite at the Darlington Township Building every Thursday. Video below: Watch Shaw’s full remarks. Appearance comes after no-show Alan Shaw was invited to a public hearing last month in western Pennsylvania, but did not show. The committee then subpoenaed him to testify on March 8. But Shaw did not show again, saying he was preparing to testify in Washington, DC, the following day.The Pennsylvania committee wanted Shaw to answer questions about the company’s response to the Feb. 3 derailments near the Pennsylvania border in East Palestine, Ohio and its decision to burn off the hazardous chemicals from several of the rail cars two days later. When Shaw was tested in Washington, he vowed to clean the site and keep open communication with residents.” Norfolk Southern will clean the site safely, thoroughly and with urgency. You have my personal commitment. Norfolk Southern will get the job done to help East Palestine thrive,” Shaw said. Monday’s hearing also featured testimony from Bob Comer, a forensic railroad accident investigator who has been suspected of more than 800 rail accidents throughout his career. Video below: Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro criticizes Norfolk Southern’s handling of derailment.

Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw appeared before a Pennsylvania State Senate committee on Monday.

Shaw opened by apologizing for last month’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. He assured lawmakers that his company is committed to cleaning up.

“Norfolk Southern is here for the long haul, and we won’t be finished until we make this right,” he said.

Shaw also said an NTSB investigation showed the train was moving at a safe speed and the operators acted appropriately, but he also said there is always from for improvement and improving safety.

Much of the questioning centered on who decided to vent chemicals at the crash site. Shaw said that was decided by unified command, with the incident commander, who he said was the local fire chief, signing off on it.

One exchange went like this:

Mon. Doug Mastriano: “It’s not a hard question. Yeah, there’s a lot of input. There’s a lot of staff. There’s a lot of ‘experts,’ but who’s the one that said, ‘We’re going to do this’?”

Shaw: “Senator, ultimately the decision falls under the incident commander.”

Mastriano: “And that was the fire chief of East Palestine? You’re saying he was the trigger guy? He was the one that said, ‘OK, we’re going to make this happen’ after receiving all the input.”

Shaw: “Yes, senator, under the structure of unified command.”

Despite environmental and health concerns raised by those living in controlled release areas, Shaw said testing by environmental agencies showed the air was safe during the process.

But many lawmakers and others at the hearing were frustrated by Shaw’s testimony.

One union leader said the incident showed more safety requirements needed to be in place for rail companies.

“Now it’s a public safety issue. It’s genuinely a public safety issue and it’s only going to get worse from here,” said Paul Pokrowka, with SMART Union.

The Shapiro administration said it plans to have a long-term physical presence in Beaver County to help residents impacted by the derailment.

Starting this week, staff from the Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Health will be onsite at the Darlington Township Building every Thursday.

Video below: Watch Shaw’s full remarks.


Appearance comes after no-show

Alan Shaw was invited to a public hearing last month in western Pennsylvania, but did not show.

The committee then subpoenaed him to testify on March 8. But Shaw did not show again, saying he was preparing to testify in Washington, DC, the following day.

The Pennsylvania committee wanted Shaw to answer questions about the company’s response to the Feb. 3 derailments near the Pennsylvania border in East Palestine, Ohio and its decision to burn off the hazardous chemicals from several of the rail cars two days later.

When Shaw was tested in Washington, he vowed to clean the site and keep open communication with residents.

“Norfolk Southern will clean the site safely, thoroughly and with urgency. You have my personal commitment. Norfolk Southern will get the job done to help East Palestine thrive,” Shaw said.

Monday’s hearing also featured testimony from Bob Comer, a forensic railroad accident investigator who has investigated more than 800 rail accidents nationwide throughout his career.

Video below: Pa. Gov. Josh Shapiro criticizes Norfolk Southern’s handling of derailment.

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