Norfolk Southern CEO visits East Palestine derailment site ‘to support the community’

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw made a brief visit to East Palestine, Ohio, on Saturday amid heavy criticism about the company’s response to the train derailment earlier this month that prompted area evacuations, as well as health and environmental concerns.

Shaw said he was there ” to support the community,” but declined further comment, according to Fox News.

The trip comes in light of the company’s decision earlier this week to back out of a town hall meeting to address the public’s concerns. Norfolk Southern said in a statement at the time that it would not send anyone to the meeting due to concerns about employees’ safety. 

“Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties,” the railroad said in a statement, first reported by WKBN 27.

While it is unclear what prompted the railroad CEO’s visit, it was reported earlier this week that Gov. Mike DeWine was upset by the railroad giant’s decision to skip the meeting — which drew further criticism from East Palestine residents and politicians alike — and asked Shaw to take the trip.

In a statement on Friday, Norfolk Southern said it was “committed to coordinating the cleanup project and paying for its associated costs,” as well as ensuring the environment and residents “not only recover but thrive.”

“Our company will be working tirelessly every day to get East Palestine back on its feet as soon as possible,” Shaw said in the statement. “We know we will be judged by our actions, and we are taking this accountability and responsibility very seriously.”

DeWine also announced on Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would deploy federal resources to the site of a train derailment.

FEMA will also deploy a senior response official and regional incident team to the area on Saturday to “support ongoing operations, including “incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs,” according to the agency.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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