Alan Shaw is the president and CEO of the Georgia-based Norfolk Southern Corporation who is under fire after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, raised environmental and health concerns among residents.
Shaw is a 55-year-old married father of four who has lived in Georgia and Virginia, according to public records and a Freight Waves biography. His net worth is estimated at more than $11 million, Wall Mine reports. According to online records, his full name is Alan Howard Shaw.
In a press release dated February 14, 2023, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, said to Shaw: “You can be assured that Pennsylvania will hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts to our Commonwealth.” He accused Shaw’s company of a variety of failures.
The Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, 2023. The Pennsylvania governor wrote in a letter to Shaw that the derailment occurred about a quarter mile from the Pennsylvania state line. It “has had a significant impact on the residents, businesses, and environment in Beaver County,” Shapiro wrote in the letter to Shaw.
According to CBS News, residents have complained that a “‘toxic release’ of the hazardous chemicals on board” left them with “headaches, rashes, respiratory problems and painful coughing.” The company gave the Environmental Protection Agency a list of hazardous chemicals on board.
Rob McFadden, who drove from Canton, Ohio, to help in East Palestine, told USA Today, “The town literally had a bomb dropped on them.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Alan Shaw, Who Owns a $4.8 Million Home in Georgia, Has Spent His Career at Norfolk Southern Corporation, Working in Coal Transportation, Marketing & Other Areas
According to Wall Mine, Shaw’s estimated net worth was at least $11.2 million as of January 2023.
Shaw owns “over 3,141 units of Norfolk Southern stock worth over $8,342,995 and over the last 7 years he sold NSC stock worth over $2,015,680. In addition, he makes $873,416 as Pres at Norfolk Southern,” Wall Mine reported.
However, Daily Mail reported that Shaw “earns $4.5million a year, lives in a $4.25 million mansion and has a property empire.” The British news site reported that Shaw “owns more than 20 properties across Georgia and Virginia, but spends most of his time in a $4.2 million Atlanta mansion or on one of his two boats.”
Zillow now lists the Atlanta mansion as being worth $4,841,900. Heavy is not linking to the Zillow site to avoid directing people to Shaw’s home address.
According to his LinkedIn page, Shaw has been the president and CEO of Norfolk Southern for 10 months and president for one year and three months.
He was the company’s Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer for eight years in the Norfolk, Virginia, area, according to his LinkedIn page.
Shaw was the vice president of intermodal operations for one year and eight months. He was group vice president of “chemicals” for one year and eight months, according to his LinkedIn page.
Shaw’s bio on the site Freight Waves adds:
Alan served as Vice President-Intermodal Operations (2013-2015), Group Vice President-Chemicals (2009-2013), Group Vice President-Coal Transportation Services (2008-2009), Director-Coal Transportation Services (2002-2008), and has held various staff positions in the Coal and Finance departments (1994-2002).
The company’s LinkedIn page says Norfolk Southern Corporation and its predecessor companies have existed since 1827.
“Today, it operates a customer-centric and operations-driven freight transportation network. Committed to furthering sustainability, Norfolk Southern helps its customers avoid 15 million tons of yearly carbon emissions by shipping via rail,” the company’s LinkedIn page says.
“Its dedicated team members deliver more than 7 million carloads annually, from agriculture to consumer goods, and is the largest rail shipper of auto products and metals in North America.”
The company page continues, “Norfolk Southern also has the most extensive intermodal network in the eastern U.S., serving a majority of the country’s population and manufacturing base, with connections to every major container port on the Atlantic coast as well as the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes.”
2. Pennsylvania’s Governor Wrote Alan Shaw a Letter ‘Expressing Serious Concerns’ After 38 Rail Cars Derailed in East Palestine, Ohio
According to a press release from the National Transportation Safety Board, on February 3, 2023, at approximately 8:54 p.m., local time, “eastbound Norfolk Southern Railway, general merchandise freight train 32N, derailed on main track 1 in East Palestine, Ohio.”
As a result of the derailment, “38 rail cars derailed and a fire ensued which damaged an additional 12 cars,” NTSB reported. “There were 20 total hazardous material cars in the train consist—11 of which derailed. A list of what the derailed rail cars were carrying is available online. There were no reported fatalities or injuries.”
The release continued, “NTSB is conducting a safety investigation to determine the probable cause of the derailment and issue any safety recommendations, if necessary, to prevent future derailments.”
NTSB investigators have identified and examined the rail car that initiated the derailment. Surveillance video from a residence showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment. The wheelset from the suspected railcar has been collected as evidence for metallurgical examination. The suspected overheated wheel bearing has been collected and will be examined by engineers from the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
The tank cars are currently being decontaminated. Once the process is complete, NTSB investigators will return to Ohio to complete a thorough examination of the tank cars.
In the news release, the governor announced that he sent a letter to Shaw “expressing serious concerns regarding the company’s management of the February 3 train derailment.”
According to Pennsylvania Governor Shapiro, “local and state leaders are frustrated and concerned by Norfolk Southern’s disregard for crisis management best practices and agree Norfolk Southern could have put Pennsylvanians’ health and well-being at risk.”
Shapiro’s press release says that Pennsylvania “continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following this incident. The Department of Environmental Protection will continue to work with its partners to monitor the air and water quality closely in the weeks and months ahead.”
Read the governor’s full letter to Shaw here.
The governor wrote in his letter that Norfolk southern “failed to implement Unified Command, creating confusion and resulting in a general lack of awareness for first responders and emergency management of the tactics Norfolk Southern planned in response.”
Early in the incident, Norfolk Southern personnel “separated themselves from the rest of the incident management structure at the Incident Command Post to conduct separate operational and tactical planning, forcing state and local response agencies to react to tactics that were developed unilaterally and without the combined input of key state agencies,” Shapiro wrote.
He also accused Norfolk Southern of giving “inaccurate information and conflicting modeling about the impact of the controlled release that made protective action decision making more difficult in the immediate aftermath of the derailment.”
Norfolk Southern “failed to notify state and local response agencies initially of their intention to vent and burn all five cars containing vinyl chloride, rather than just the single car Norfolk Southern personnel identified originally,” wrote Shapiro.
The company failed to “immediately inform authorities as to the number of rail cars that contained dangerous chemicals,” the governor’s letter says.
It accuses company officials of being unwilling to “explore or articulate alternative courses of action to their proposed vent and burn,” according to the governor.
“While I appreciate that responding to train derailments presents an array of complex challenges, failure to adhere to well-accepted standards of practice related to incident management and prioritizing an accelerated and arbitrary timeline to reopen the rail line injected unnecessary risk and created confusion in the process,” Shapiro wrote.
Norfolk Southern’s “well known opposite to modernized regulations require further scrutiny,” he wrote.
According to CBS News, the train, which originated in Illinois, derailed once before.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, tweeted, “The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact w/ FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, but FEMA continues to advise that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time. I will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided.”
He also tweeted, “I spoke w/ the White House early this morning to address the need for federal help in East Palestine. As a result of this conversation, I have requested assistance from the U.S. Dept of Health/Human Services, Health & Emergency Response Team, & CDC to provide direct support.”
According to DeWine, “New water testing results show no detection of contaminants in East Palestine’s municipal water system. With these test results, @OhioEPA is confident that the municipal water is safe to drink.”
3. ‘We Will Not Walk Away,’ Alan Shaw Wrote in a Letter to the East Palestine Community, But Norfolk Southern Executives Did Not Show Up for a Town Hall Meeting With Angry Residents
According to USA Today, the East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said Norfolk Southern executives skipped a town hall meeting with concerned residents because they did not feel safe.
“They were in all the meetings, then today I got a phone call that they didn’t feel safe,” Conaway said to gathered residents, according to USA Today. “I’m just as frustrated as you are … I’m trying to get answers. I cannot force them to be here.”
Residents expressed anger at the meeting, according to USA Today, which reported that one woman shouted, “Why are people getting sick if there’s nothing in the air or water.”
According to PR Newswire, Alan H. Shaw shared his thoughts in a letter to the community.
The letter reads:
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.
Ohio Senator JD Vance, a Republican, called on Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration to “stop blaming Donald Trump” in the wake of the train derailment, according to Fox News.
“I haven’t spoken to President Biden. My message to him is pretty simple. One, the Department of Transportation, your Department of Transportation, has things they can do,” Vance said, according to Fox. “Stop blaming Donald Trump, a guy who hasn’t been president for three years, and use the powers of the federal government to do the things necessary to help the people in this community.”
According to Fox News, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “waited 10 days before addressing the derailment.”
However, scrutiny has also fallen on Trump’s Republican administration’s withdrawal of a braking rule.
Buttigieg tweeted, “We’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015), but we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe.”
According to Lever News, before the derailment, Norfolk Southern “helped kill a federal safety rule aimed at upgrading the rail industry’s Civil War-era braking systems.”
Lever News reported that the company launched a “lobbying blitz against stronger transportation safety regulations,” but Norfolk Southern “paid executives millions and spent billions on stock buybacks — all while the company shed thousands of employees despite warnings that understaffing is intensifying safety risks.”
According to Lever News, Norfolk Southern officials “also fought off a shareholder initiative that could have required company executives to ‘assess, review, and mitigate risks of hazardous material transportation.'”
4. Alan Shaw, Who Graduated From Virginia Tech, Serves on the Boards of Colleges & Community Groups
According to his LinkedIn page, Shaw has a master’s of Business Administration from Virginia Tech, which he obtained in 1992.
He has a bachelor of science degree in Aerospace from Virginia Tech in 1989, the page says.
According to a bio for Shaw on Freight Waves, “He also graduated from the General Management Program at Harvard Business School (2012) and earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst (1997) from the Association for Investment and Management Research.”
Shaw has served on the board of directors or trustees for Metro Atlanta Chapter, Atlanta Committee for Progress, Virginia Wesleyan University, Pace Academy, and Roanoke College, his LinkedIn page says.
5. Alan Shaw, Who Is Married With 4 Children, Filled an Old Facebook Page With Pictures of His Kids
A biography from Freight Waves says that “Alan and his wife, Tiffany, live in Atlanta, GA with their four children.”
According to property records, Shaw’s 51-year-old wife’s full name is Tiffany Tilley Shaw.
Her father’s obituary says Templeton “Sonny” Tilley, was born in West Virginia and retired “from the Ford Motor Company, Norfolk Assembly Plant after 43 years of service. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
Shaw filled an old Facebook page of pictures with his kids, wife, and family and outdoors activities, like fly fishing in Montana, enjoying a lake, and sledding with his kids.