Alan Shaw holds Q&A with Bloomberg

Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw discussed the derailment and company’s efforts support the East Palestine community in an interview with Bloomberg. Excerpts are below.

You’ve said that the company’s investments in safety didn’t prevent the derailment. At this point, where do you think Norfolk Southern can get better? What areas are you focusing on?

We’re working with others in the industry to understand best practices for wayside detectors. We have advocated in the past for higher safety standards for tank cars, and we will continue to do so. We’re going to look at technology improvements.

There’s been so much fixation on regulations for trains bearing hazardous materials in the wake of this derailment, including the acceleration of tougher standards for tank-car durability. That makes sense because of the chemical cleanup that this accident necessitated. But it’s interesting to me that the car with the overheated wheel wasn’t itself a tank car carrying raw chemical inputs.  Has the design of hopper cars ever been  a point of regulatory focus?

No, I don’t think so because typically a hopper car doesn’t handle anything that’s highly hazardous. As the NTSB looks at the bearing itself on that car, hopefully the entire industry including car manufacturers and leasing companies will take a look at that. We will see what the NTSB finds out about the bearing and what the point of failure was. Absent that, I would just be speculating, and NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy has admonished everyone about that. We’re doing the right things with the NTSB.

People want to understand the cause of the derailment but the local community is also worried about the short- and long-term impact on the environment and their health. Do you wish you had done more and earlier on to answer questions and address concerns?

I’ve been there multiple times in the immediate aftermath. I’m going back to East Palestine at least twice this week. I’ve been holding smaller group discussions with community leaders, faith-based systems, business leaders and regular citizens. What I hear is that this a tight-knit community. These are folks who love living in East Palestine, and they want to see that community thrive. I’ve heard from folks who have worked really hard to get to where they are and to get East Palestine to where it is. They’re looking for information. I immediately came back to my team with a sense of urgency and said we need to set up an East Palestine-specific website. I encourage you to go to “” There’s all kinds of information on financial assistance, where to turn for medical help, air testing and water testing. Our family assistance center was set up the day after the derailment. I went there and introduced myself to everyone, told them who I was and who I represented and asked if they were getting everything they needed from Norfolk Southern…