EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — “We will not walk away.”
That’s the message Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw is sending to those impacted by the East Palestine train derailment.
His letter, which was issued Thursday, comes one day after Norfolk Southern officials decided not to attend an East Palestine town hall meeting while citing “the growing physical threat” to their employees.
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You can read Shaw’s full message to the community below:
"We will not walk away, East Palestine.
"When I visited East Palestine last week, you told me how the train derailment has upended your lives and how concerned you are about the safety of your air, water, and land. Many of you have also reached out to Norfolk Southern to share your fears, your anger, and your frustration.
"I hear you. We hear you.
"I know you also have questions about whether Norfolk Southern will be here to help make things right.
"My simple answer is that we are here and will stay here for as long as it takes to ensure your safety and to help East Palestine recover and thrive.
"Our work is underway. Crews are cleaning the site thoroughly, responsibly, and safely. Our Family Assistance Center is helping community members meet immediate needs. Together with local health officials, we have implemented a comprehensive testing program to ensure the safety of East Palestine's water, air, and soil. And we have established a $1 million community support fund as a down payment on our commitment to help rebuild.
"But our work is far from over. As we continue site clean-up, the NTSB moves forward with its investigation, and necessary environmental testing is carried out, I promise to keep you updated every step of the way.
"I know there are still a lot of questions without answers. I know you're tired. I know you're worried. We will not let you down."
U.S. EPA Administrator Michael Regan visited East Palestine Thursday where he vowed to hold Norfolk Southern accountable. He also reiterated that residents are safe.
“All families need to know that they are safe. All families deserve access to clean air and safe drinking water," Regan said. "I want this community to know that they don’t have to manage this issue on their own. As President Biden told Gov. DeWine, anything the state needs, we will be there to help.”
The train derailment happened back on Feb.3. Days later, officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals amid explosion concerns at the site.