Norfolk Southern CEO Says ‘Misinformation’ Is Hurting Ohio Train Derailment Recovery

Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images

James Lynch Investigative Reporter
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Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said Wednesday that “misinformation” allegedly spreading online is hurting residents of East Palestine, Ohio, as the town recovers from the train derailment and subsequent chemical disaster.

Shaw conducted an interview with The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ahead of an initial accident report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to be published Thursday. “There’s so much misinformation out there that is hurting the folks of East Palestine,” Shaw told the outlet. “They don’t like that people are calling it American Chernobyl when all the tests show that it is safe and that it is clean.”

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chief Michael Regan drank East Palestine tap water Tuesday in an effort to show residents it was safe. Air and water testing by state and federal officials has reportedly shown the water to be safe, in contrast to civilian accounts of contaminated water and certain physical ailments. (RELATED: Pete Buttigieg Confronted By DCNF Reporter In DC Streets Over Response To Toxic Train Wreck)

Shaw visited with local officials in East Palestine on Tuesday, his third appearance in the town since the Norfolk Southern train carrying dangerous chemicals crashed Feb. 3. He first visited the town Feb. 18 after representatives from the company skipped a town hall meeting about the train wreck due to alleged physical threats.

A company employee living in East Palestine has become the liaison between Shaw and the town, with a budget of $1 million to assist with recovery efforts.

Norfolk Southern says it has provided $6.5 million in financial assistance to the community, according to WSJ. The company still plans to spend $7.5 billion to benefit its shareholders, based on annual financial disclosures cited by CNN.

Former President Donald Trump visited the town Wednesday to speak with residents and deliver water to those in need. Trump criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for his delayed response to the chemical disaster and defended his own administration’s record on rail safety.

Buttigieg is scheduled to visit East Palestine on Thursday, 20 days after the train derailment caused many nearby residents to temporarily evacuate their homes due to chemical contagion.