On Sunday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to the CEO of Norfolk Southern warning the company that they need to show unequivocal support for the people of East Palestine.
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Buttigieg said that the East Palestine derailment is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and that the Federal Railroad Administration is analyzing whether any safety violations occurred, and if there were violations, they will hold Norfolk Southern responsible.
Buttigieg added that this was the right time for Norfolk to become a leader in the rail industry by “supporting, not thwarting efforts to raise the standard of U.S. rail safety regulation.” Noting that Norfolk has shown “vigorous resistance” to increased safety measures, which has included litigation and lobbying Congress.
On Monday, Buttigieg doubled down on his calls for increased safety within the rail industry, calling on Norfolk Southern and all rail companies to take immediate steps to improve accountability and safety. Some of the steps Buttigieg laid out include accelerating the phase-in of safer tanker cars, securing paid sick leave for workers, and calling on Congress to raise the existing caps on fines for violating rail safety regulations.
In a statement Buttigieg said that, "Profit and expediency must never outweigh the safety of the American people," adding that, "We at USDOT are doing everything in our power to improve rail safety, and we insist that the rail industry do the same.”