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East Palestine residents confront town leaders, Norfolk Southern



Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, who were recently hit by a hazardous train derailment, confronted their town leaders on Wednesday.

“I don’t feel safe in this town,” resident Jim Stewart said. “You took it away from me. You took this away from us.”

“I lost a lot. I lost the value of my home,” Stewart told Norfolk Southern Railway President and CEO Alan Shaw. “We were going to sell our house.”

Local, state and federal leaders were in attendance along with the head of the rail operator at the center of the crisis.  The leaders fielded questions from residents of East Palestine, Ohio, during a town hall hosted by CNN

“I lost a lot. I lost the value of my home,” Stewart told Norfolk Southern Railway President and CEO Alan Shaw. “We were going to sell our house.”


“I’m 65 years old, a diabetic, AFib, heart disease — did you shorten my life now? I want to retire and enjoy it. How are we going to enjoy it? You burned me,” he continued. “Do I mow the grass? Can I plant tomatoes next summer? What can I do? I’m afraid to! And it’s in the air. Every day I cough — a little cough here, a little cough there — I’ve never had that.”

“Your derailment, it’s changed me now. It’s made me an angry man,” he added. “I don’t want to be like that.”

Shaw assured the residents of East Palestine that Norfolk Southern is “absolutely focused on safety” and that they invest $1BN per year into safety and maintenance.

Shaw did acknowledge that “clearly this is a situation where our safety culture and our investments didn’t prevent this accident.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other leaders promised not to paint a “rosy” picture of what was happening and to provide them with regular and transparent updates.


“We’ve been very careful not to tell anybody it’s OK until we have evidence that it’s OK,” DeWine told residents. “There’s still cleanup to do. There’s still many things to do. So we’re not telling you everything is perfect. No one can tell you that. But as we go through and do one thing at a time and approach this in a methodical way, we’re going to tell you when things are clear.”

“It’s not rosy. We’re not saying everything is good,” the governor added, adding that he is liaising with experts on a continuous basis.

The National Transportation Safety Board shared an update last week in regard to its ongoing investigation into the February 3rd crash stating that “investigators have identified and examined the rail car that initiated the derailment.”

“Surveillance video from a residence showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment,” the NTSB said in an investigative update on Feb. 14. “The wheelset from the suspected railcar has been collected as evidence for metallurgical examination. The suspected overheated wheel bearing has been collected and will be examined by engineers from the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C.”

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