Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw told CNBC that he believes it’s safe for his family to return to East Palestine, Ohio, about three weeks after the toxic chemicals were released after a train derailed earlier this month. Told.
Asked by CNBC’s Morgan Brennan if he’s taking the kids to town, Shaw replied, “Yes, yes, we’ve been back many times. We’re drinking water here. We’re socializing with the families here.” Did.”
The company will also continue to help the town’s residents, Shaw said.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed. fire all day longThe environmental scale of the derailment may remain unknown for years and may require further testing.Officials say air levels are safe and the town’s water has no harmful levels of contaminants, but residents expressed skepticism about those warranties.
“Our current focus is on environmental remediation, cleaning of this site, continuous air monitoring, water monitoring, financial support to the residents of this community, and investing in this community in East Palestine so that it can thrive. It’s about doing,” Shaw said in an interview that aired Tuesday.
As early as Tuesday, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency ordered the company We handle and pay for all the cleanup work. Norfolk Southern must remediate contaminated soil and water resources, pay EPA for remediation services, and participate in public meetings as requested by EPA.
A company spokesperson said CNBC Norfolk Southern has been in contact with the agency and has complied with their requests since the incident.
Ohio EPA emergency responder Ron Ford searches for fish tracks and stirs Leslie Run Creek water for chemicals that have settled to the bottom after a train derailment in East Palestine on February 20, 2023. . Ohio.
Michael Swensen | Getty Images
Three days after the derailment, the company’s independent consultants and the Ohio EPA recommended that a combined command be implemented. controlled release Burns toxic chemicals, including known carcinogens.
“The fact that we knew at the time that the car’s pressure relief valve was failing and that the temperature was rising led our independent experts to use the controls to launch harmful gases and shrapnel into populated areas. I became very concerned about the possibility of an incapacitated explosion,” Shaw said.
Air surveillance detected no traces of toxic chemicals, officials said, but admitted the show “could scare people.”
Ohio opened a new clinic on Tuesday to address rising reports of headaches, nausea and rashes in eastern Palestine.worried residents Dead fish and chickens reported As the authorities said it would be safe to return. Medical teams from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health are expected to arrive in the area as early as this week.
Air monitors were installed within an hour of the derailment, and water monitors were installed hours later, Shaw said. He said all air and water tests came back clean, but the community could get additional air and water tests at home, he said.
“I strongly encourage people to see a trusted medical professional if they are experiencing symptoms that they are not used to,” Shaw said, admitting it was a “traumatic experience.” I got
The tests showed no signs of carcinogens, including vinyl chloride, in the environment, officials said. Still, the full impact may not surface until years from now. Some researchers have said this is not a problem, and tests will continue, he said, Shaw.
Shaw said the company has so far removed about 450 cubic yards of contaminated soil and secured about 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water. He said the company will continue to “do the right thing for this community” and see the recovery effort through to the end.
Shaw said it’s safe for the family to return to the community as remediation by the Ohio EPA is underway. He said Norfolk Southern had refunded or promised East Palestine his $6.5 million “down payment” and would continue to provide financial assistance to residents.
The company had previously provided residents with $1,000 “inconvenience” checks, but Cleveland attorneys warned residents that these checks would cause them to waive future claims against the company. In an interview, Shaw denied the lawyer’s allegations after issuing a public statement that the company’s testing exempted Norfolk Southern from liability.
“I know they’re hurt. I know they’re scared. I know they’re confused. They’re looking for information and who to trust.” ‘ said Shaw.
Norfolk Southern is working fully with the NTSB and FRA to determine the root cause of the derailment, Shaw said. He avoided discussing security footage that showed the wheels sparking about 20 miles before the derailment.
“We will be here tomorrow. We will still be here a year from now.We will still be here five years from now. “Stand up and help this community thrive,” Shaw said.
Responding to Criticism
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter Addressing Norfolk Southern on Sunday, the company warned it “must show clear support for the people” of eastern Palestine.
Buttigieg said Norfolk Southern and other railroads had “spent millions of dollars in court, lobbying legislators to challenge common sense safety regulations, shutting down some altogether, and reducing the reach of others. I let you do it,” he wrote.
Some companies are embracing precisely planned railroads, including running longer trains and cutting costs and manpower to create a more effective network and potentially higher profits. .
In response, Shaw said Norfolk Southern invests more than $1 billion a year in “science-based solutions,” including maintenance of tracks, equipment and technology.
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said: CNN interview Job cuts and stock buybacks are occurring because rail companies “are not investing in the safety of their vehicles and the rail lines themselves in the way they should”.
“It’s clear that our safety culture and investments in safety failed to prevent this accident,” Shaw replied. “We need to look at this to understand what’s different and what can be done better.”
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