Norfolk Southern train derails in Alabama hours before CEO testifies to Congress

Norfolk Southern train derails in Alabama hours before CEO testifies to Congress

A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama hours before the CEO testified to Congress as the company has faced increasing scrutiny on its safety practices.

Thirty train cars derailed in the White Plains, Alabama area, around 6:45 a.m., local time, the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency on its Facebook page. There were no injuries nor reports of hazardous material leaking, the agency said, not any road blockages.

The train, which started its route in Atlanta was traveling westbound to Meridian, Mississippi, Norfolk Southern said in a statement to CBS News.

“We are working in close coordination with local officials,” a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern said in the statement.

The news comes as the beleaguered rail giant is still dealing with the fallout surrounding the massive train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, last month. Those derailed cars, which contained hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, caused serious environmental and health concerns for the area’s residents. Several lawsuits have been filed against the company alleging residents have been exposed to toxins.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced on March 7 that it was launching a special investigation into the company following multiple incidents involving Norfolk Southern dating back to December 2021. This announcement followed the news that 20 cars of a 212-car Norfolk Southern train derailed in Springfield, Ohio, and a Norfolk Southern conductor was struck and killed by a dump truck at a steel-making facility in Cleveland.

The NTSB said it was “concerned” that “several organizational factors” may have played a part in the accidents, and urged the company not to wait for the investigation to be concluded to improve its safety practices.

On Thursday, just hours after the Alabama derailment, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw appeared alongside federal and local environmental officials for the hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Shaw, in his opening remarks, told committee members that he is “deeply sorry” for the impact the derailment had on the East Palestine community. The CEO pledged reimbursements and investments of more than $20 million to the East Palestine community, and said “we won’t be finished until we make it right.”

Shaw and NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy will also appear on March 22 before the Senate Commerce Committee at a rail safety hearing, Reuters reported.

Reporting contributed by Melissa Quinn and Gina Martinez

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