EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – A Congressional field hearing set for Friday in East Palestine is now postponed.
The public was invited to hear testimony from Norfolk Southern’s CEO Alan Shaw as well as the community and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency about February’s train derailment.
Now, House members say due to changes in their voting schedule, they must instead be in Washington DC.
WKBN spoke with Alan Shaw who was in the village on Thursday. He told us that from day one they said they were going to make it right.
This week, both of Ohio’s U.S. senators have been critical of the railroad over plans to help local property owners whose land is losing value because of February’s train derailment and the clean-up that’s still taking place.
Shaw says they all have the same goals in terms of helping the long-term vibrancy of the community. One of the biggest concerns he tells us he’s been hearing from people in the village is property valuation.
“Just this week we kept that promise and we set up a fund. It’s kind of an assurance for the local community that property values would be protected,” Shaw said.
Shaw says at the same time they’re investing in long-term economic vibrancy with the $25 million donation to the park or the $20 million commitment to the first responder training facility.
“These are things that I hear from the community when I come back, and I made promises that we were going to address it, their concerns, and we’re a company that keeps its promises,” Shaw said.
Shaw also said Norfolk Southern is working on a long-term fund to protect water, water monitoring, and health care in the village. And just last week it announced $4.3 million to invest in the municipal water system.
Senator Sherrod Brown had written a letter to Norfolk Southern listing six items he wanted addressed at the hearing. He wants the railroad to fix the damage, keep the promises it has made to village residents, and improve safety.
Senator Sherrod brown believes the railroad should stop fighting a desire to have just a one-person crew on trains, adding that Norfolk Southern should also stop fighting their bipartisan effort on train safety.