Norfolk Southern train derails in Alabama on morning of CEO's congressional testimony

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT/NEXSTAR) – A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama on Thursday morning, the same day CEO Alan Shaw apologized before members of Congress for February’s fiery derailment in Ohio.

Thursday’s derailment concerned a train containing cars designed to carry concrete. Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade said around 30 train cars were involved in the derailment, which took place around 6:50 a.m.

All of the train cars were empty at the time of the accident, and no hazardous material was spilled, according to Wade.

A train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed in Piedmont, Alabama, on Thursday morning. (Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office)

In a statement shared with Nexstar’s WIAT, a representative for Norfolk Southern added that there were no reports of injuries.

“The train originated in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was traveling westbound to Meridian, Mississippi,” the statement read, in part. “We will share any additional details as they become available.”

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw, meanwhile, spoke at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, where he said he was “deeply sorry” for the Feb. 3 derailment of a train that spilled hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.

“I’m terribly sorry for the impact this derailment has had on the folks of that community,” Shaw said. “We’re going to be there for as long as it takes to help East Palestine thrive and recover.”

Shaw added that the Norfolk Southern had committed $20 million to the community, though the company is expected to lose even more in legal costs.

Lawmakers also grilled the CEO on its previous efforts to lobby against stricter regulations, as well as the billions paid out to shareholders in dividends and buybacks last year, The Hill reported.

Concerns over the Feb. 3 derailment began mounting almost immediately after the crash. Mangled train cars were said to have left a half-mile trail of burning material which sent smoke billowing into the sky. As fears grew about a potential explosion, officials had the area evacuated and opted to release and burn over a hundred-thousand gallons of toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, sending flames and more black smoke into the air.

Some local residents later claimed their pets had gotten sick, or that they had noticed dead fish turning up in the nearby creek. Others said they had experienced headaches.

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board later determined the cause of the derailment to be an overheated wheel bearing which had been operating in a “critical” temperature range.

At a press conference weeks after the derailment, NTSP Chair Jennifer Homendy said she believed the incident was “100% preventable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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