Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro criticized Norfolk Southern — the rail company that had a train carrying toxic chemicals derail in East Palestine, Ohio — as "bad actors" who "failed miserably."
"Clearly they've been bad actors in this case, and they have a responsibility now to make it good for the good people of Pennsylvania," Shapiro told NBC News in an exclusive interview about the train derailment just over his state’s border, after criticizing the company's initial involvement in the response effort.
"Make sure that the air they breathe is safe, the water that they drink is safe, the farm land where their animals roam is safe, and where their crops are harvested is safe. They have a lot of work to do, and the cost will come out of their pocket."
"And then, I think they have a responsibility going forward to make sure something like this never happens again," he added.
When asked to respond to the governor’s comments, a Norfolk Southern spokesperson pointed NBC News to a website detailing its public outreach in response to the accident, and provided a statement that said in part that the company recognizes “we have a responsibility, and we have committed to doing what’s right for the residents of East Palestine.
“We have been paying for the cleanup activities to date and will continue to do so. We are committed to thoroughly and safely cleaning the site, and we are reimbursing residents for the disruption this has caused in their lives,” the statement adds.
“We are investing in helping East Palestine thrive for the long-term, and we will continue to be in the community for as long as it takes. We are going to learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve railroad safety.”
The rail company has been at the center of a firestorm after the toxic derailment, which a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found may have been caused by an overheated wheel bearing. The train had been carrying more than 115,000 gallons of vinyl chloride, a highly flammable carcinogen used in manufacturing, and the NTSB report says the company chose to release and burn the chemical out of fears of an explosion.
Residents and officials have raised concerns about the environmental impact of the crash, as both the federal government and Congress continue to keep the pressure on the company. And Shapiro's office announced earlier this month it filed a criminal referral in response to the crash.