‘Determined to make this right;’ Norfolk Southern CEO testifies following Ohio train derailments

WASHINGTON D.C. — Railroad safety is top of mind as Norfolk Southern’s CEO, Alan Shaw, testified in front of a U.S. Senate Committee in Washington D.C. on Thursday.

Just hours before he testified, another Norfolk Southern trained derailed in Alabama as around 30 cars went off the track. The company said none of the derailed cars were carrying hazardous materials.

>>Norfolk Southern train derails in Alabama as CEO testifies in front of Senate committee

Three Norfolk Southern trains have derailed in Ohio this year, the latest Saturday in Clark County when nearly 30 cars went off the tracks near Springfield.

News Center 7′s Blair Miller was there when Shaw testified about the recent derailments, specifically the toxic train wreck in East Palestine last month.

Senators asked questions about the company’s safety practices.

Miller reports the CEO said many times in the hearing Norfolk Southern will do all it takes to help people but some lawmakers did not buy it.

>>Springfield Train Derailment: A look at the hazardous chemicals on-board

All eyes were on Shaw as he walked the halls of the Capitol Complex on Thursday.

Miller asked, “Mr. Shaw, can we ask you some questions?” He did not answer.

Inside a packed room, he faced more questions from members of Congress. This was the first time he faced lawmakers since the derailment in East Palestine.

Miller said he began with an apology and a promise.

“I am determined to make this right,” he said. “Norfolk Southern will clean the site safely, thoroughly, and with urgency. You have my personal commitment.”

>>RELATED: NTSB launches investigation into Norfolk Southern, urges them to improve safety ‘immediately’

Shaw added the company is learning from this incident, already making changes and working with officials to make railroads safer.

He also said it is safe to live in East Palestine.

“The air is safe to breathe and the water is safe to drink,” said Shaw.

>> Safety plan released following NTSB initial investigation following East Palestine derailment

Miller said the frustration grew from Senators with each being critical of the company and the CEO over safety. They also questioned the company’s billion dollar finances.

“With all due respect, Mr. Shaw,” said Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “You sound like a politician here.”

“Do you think it’s safe to reside in this town, Mr. Shaw?” asked South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

“So, can we count on you and your team of lobbyists to push for safety improvements rather than lobbying against those improvements?” asked Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

“I share your concern and focus,” said Shaw.

“I don’t want you to share with my concern,” Merkley responded. “I want to know will your team continue to lobby for safety improvements rather than against them.”

>>RELATED: Springfield train derailment: Clark Co. officials ‘No hazardous materials leaked;’ NTSB on scene

Miller said Shaw spoke about how they have spent tens of millions of dollars to help the people in Ohio. He referred to that money as a down payment.

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