Yet another Norfolk Southern train derailed on Thursday just as the company’s CEO was testifying to Congress about the disastrous chemical train crash in Ohio.
The company said about 30 empty cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama as it was traveling from Atlanta to Mississippi.
“Norfolk Southern is responding to a derailment in Piedmont, Alabama,” the company said in a statement. “There are no reports of injuries and no reports of a hazardous materials release. We are working in close coordination with local officials.”
Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said there have been no injuries or property damage. There is also no risk of hazardous material, he said.
The derailment occurred around the same time Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw appeared before the Senate to discuss other recent derailments, including a train carrying noxious chemicals that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio last month.
Officials are still dealing with the fallout and cleanup around the accident site. They decided to do a controlled burn of the chemicals in the train cars, releasing them into the air. One of those chemicals was vinyl chloride, a highly flammable substance used to make PVC and known to cause cancer.
Residents of East Palestine were initially evacuated but later told they could return to their homes. However, many are concerned that the dangerous materials have impacted air and water quality, and some residents have reported negative health effects, including trouble breathing, headaches, and damage to their voices. Animals have also died in the wake of the crash, including thousands of fish.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) peppered Shaw with questions about rail safety, pushing him to commit to lobbying for improved safety regulations, rather than against them.
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Sen. Merkley presses the CEO of Norfolk Southern on the company’s safety regulations following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. https://t.co/zRa2mfDdWg pic.twitter.com/pjWx25Va1J
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 9, 2023
“Will your team lobby for safety improvements rather than against them?” Merkley asked Shaw, who did not answer directly.
“I just really thought when you said ‘turn over a new leaf,’ I thought you were saying you were going to now support safety regulations,” Merkley said. “I’m sorry you can’t tell this crowd here today that would like to hear that, that that is the case.”
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) testified as a witness and suggested the disaster received a slow response because there was little political reward in a swift one.
“I think that our leadership, our media, and our politicians were slow to respond to this crisis in part because a certain segment of our leadership feels like the people of East Palestine are a little out of style,” Vance said. “They have the wrong politics, they’re a little too rural. Maybe a little too white.”
Senator @JDVance1‘s Full Testimony At Senate Hearing On The Norfolk Southern Derailment In East Palestine, Ohio
Senator Vance Responding To People Claiming His Legislation Violates The “Free Market”:
“This is an industry that enjoys special subsidies that almost no… https://t.co/qdNZ9SDZ6l pic.twitter.com/vjIV9xi6n5
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) March 9, 2023
Earlier this week, a Norfolk Southern conductor was killed when a dump truck crashed into a train, raising more questions about the company’s safety climate.
In the aftermath of the accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board this week announced a special investigation into Norfolk Southern.