Norfolk Southern’s CEO is providing assist for some components of a bipartisan Senate invoice to place harder security rules on railroads after final month’s fiery hazardous supplies prepare derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
CEO Alan Shaw is below strain from senators and federal security regulators to step up his dedication to security rules as he seems earlier than the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Beneath aggressive questioning from senators earlier this month in a separate listening to, he dedicated to voluntary security upgrades and earnestly apologized for the derailment that upended life in East Palestine, Ohio. However Shaw had stopped wanting endorsing proposed security rules below the Railway Security Act of 2023.
This time, Shaw says in ready remarks launched Tuesday that Norfolk Southern will “assist legislative efforts to boost the protection of the freight rail trade.” However he doesn’t deal with a number of key provisions of the Railway Security Act, together with elevated fines for security violations and designating trains that carry flammable fuel as extremely hazardous.
Shaw helps provisions within the act for railroads to fund coaching for emergency crews, a overview of rules for rail care inspections each three years and accelerating the phaseout of older tank automobile fashions.
Shaw additionally says there are “areas through which we imagine Congress might go additional with security laws,” together with stricter requirements for tank automobile design and analysis into know-how that may detect issues with rail automobiles.
Nobody was instantly injured within the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, however state and native officers determined to launch and burn poisonous vinyl chloride from 5 tanker automobiles, prompting the evacuation of half of the roughly 5,000 residents. Scenes of billowing smoke above the village, alongside studies from residents that they nonetheless undergo from sicknesses, have turned high-level consideration to railroad security and the way harmful supplies are transported.
The Senate Commerce Committee may even hear from the Nationwide Transportation Security Board chair Jennifer Homendy. The NTSB — in addition to the Federal Railroad Administration — are investigating the East Palestine derailment and Norfolk Southern’s security practices.
In ready remarks, Homendy says that “rail stays one of many most secure technique of transportation,” but in addition factors to a number of security shortcomings in present rules, together with that native emergency responders will not be frequently instructed what hazardous supplies are carried on trains in the event that they don’t qualify as a high-hazard flammable prepare.
The prepare that derailed in East Palestine was not labeled as extremely hazardous as a result of it fell below the edge for the variety of automobiles carrying a flamable liquid, similar to gasoline, ethanol or acetone.
Homendy will push for a broader definition of high-hazard flammable trains, saying it “ought to embody a broad vary of hazardous supplies” and “that even one railcar of any hazardous materials justifies notifying emergency responders.”
Senators may even hear from a corporation representing railroads, an East Palestine resident and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, in addition to the 2 Ohio senators pushing the Railway Security Act — Republican JD Vance and Democrat Sherrod Brown.
Each senators have been outspoken critics of Norfolk Southern. Vance, who holds a seat on the Senate Commerce Committee, has circulated a memo to his fellow Republicans on the panel this week to push them to focus the listening to on the brand new security rules, together with questioning Shaw on whether or not he helps elevated fines for security violations.
Within the memo, Vance means that Shaw be requested whether or not the penalties needs to be stepped up “when a railroad firm poisons a complete neighborhood.”
Within the Home, Republican Reps. Invoice Johnson, whose district consists of East Palestine, and Emilia Robust Sykes, an Ohio Democrat, have launched a separate model of a railroad security invoice.