It’s now been more than seven months since a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine. By now everyone in Ohio and around the country knows the devastation the company’s negligence has caused in that small, tight-knit community in Columbiana County.
After the disaster, Norfolk Southern made a lot of big promises to Ohioans. More than half a year later, they still haven’t followed through on all their commitments to make the East Palestine community whole.
Last week, I was back in East Palestine to hear from local health care providers about what they are seeing from patients in the community. And I wrote to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, laying out a comprehensive list of actions the company must take to keep all of their promises.
First, the company must continue environmental monitoring and clean-up activities, and commit to covering all future, related healthcare and environmental costs.
Second, they must commit to paying for all economic damages to families and businesses.
Third, Norfolk Southern needs to provide everyone who is working, or has worked, on the cleanup with proper training for handling the material at the derailment site, and medical screenings to monitor for any resulting health impacts.
Fourth, they need to acknowledge that their failed safety culture caused the derailment in East Palestine, and show real progress in prioritizing safety.
Fifth, Norfolk Southern needs to stop their financial support for the freight rail industry’s lobbying against the Railway Safety Act. The company claims they aren’t lobbying against our bill, but they continue to fund the industry lobbyists that have made it their mission to kill our bipartisan rail safety act.
Finally, the company must cease its opposition to the safe operation of trains with 2-person crews, and call on the freight rail industry to end its lawsuit against the State of Ohio If Norfolk Southern wants to rebuild trust, they need to take these concrete steps, and show Ohioans they’re making promises in good faith, and not more misleading PR gestures. I’ll never stop pushing Norfolk Southern to follow through on their promises, and I’ll never stop fighting for this community.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.