On Thursday, another Norfolk Southern train derailed, right as the company’s CEO was testifying to Congress about the disastrous chemical train crash in Ohio.
The company announced that about 30 empty cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama while it traveled from Atlanta to Mississippi.
“Norfolk Southern is responding to a derailment in Piedmont, Alabama,” the company said in a statement to The Hill. “There are no reports of injuries and no reports of a hazardous materials release. We are working in close coordination with local officials.”
Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade added that there have been no injuries or property damage and that there is no risk of hazardous material.
The derailment occurred around the same time that Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw appeared before the Senate to discuss several other recent derailments, primarily related to the train carrying toxic chemicals that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, last month.
Currently, officials are dealing with the fallout and cleanup around the site of the crash after they chose to do a controlled burn of the chemicals in the train cars, which was done in hopes of preventing a major explosion. However, that caused the chemicals, which included vinyl chloride, a highly flammable substance used to make PVC and known to cause cancer, to be released into the air.
East Palestine residents were initially evacuated, but were shortly after told they could return to their homes. Many have expressed concerns that the dangerous materials have impacted air and water quality, and some residents have reported negative health effects, including trouble breathing, headaches and damage to their voices. Animals have also died in the wake of the crash, including thousands of fish.
Shaw was hit with questions about rail safety from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) who pushed him to commit to lobbying for improved safety regulations, rather than against them.
Sen. Merkley presses the CEO of Norfolk Southern on the company’s safety regulations following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. https://t.co/zRa2mfDdWg pic.twitter.com/pjWx25Va1J— The Associated Press (@AP) March 9, 2023
“Will your team lobby for safety improvements rather than against them?” Merkley asked Shaw, who did not answer directly.
“I just really thought when you said ‘turn over a new leaf,’ I thought you were saying you were going to now support safety regulations,” Merkley said. “I’m sorry you can’t tell this crowd here today that would like to hear that, that that is the case.”
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) also testified as a witness, arguing that the disaster received a slow response from the Biden administration due to the minimal political reward.
“I think that our leadership, our media, and our politicians were slow to respond to this crisis in part because a certain segment of our leadership feels like the people of East Palestine are a little out of style,” Vance said. “They have the wrong politics, they’re a little too rural. Maybe a little too white.”
Senator @JDVance1‘s Full Testimony At Senate Hearing On The Norfolk Southern Derailment In East Palestine, Ohio
Senator Vance Responding To People Claiming His Legislation Violates The “Free Market”:
“This is an industry that enjoys special subsidies that almost no… https://t.co/qdNZ9SDZ6l pic.twitter.com/vjIV9xi6n5— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) March 9, 2023
Earlier this week, another train derailed in Ohio, which killed a Norfolk Southern conductor and brought on more questions about the company’s safety climate. The derailment also prompted a hazmat response.
In response to the multiple accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board announced a special investigation into Norfolk Southern.