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April 13, 2023
Warren Buffet, whose company Berkshire Hathaway owns Norfolk Southern’s biggest competitor, BNSF Railway company, said in an interview this week that Norfolk Southern had completely botched its response to the toxic derailment of one of its freight trains in February in Ohio.
Appearing in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Buffet said Norfolk Southern had greatly mishandled its reaction to the massive environmental spill that occurred when one of its trains derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, in early February. “I think they’ve handled it terribly,” Buffet told the show’s host, Becky Quick. “I don’t think they’re necessarily bad people for sure, but their response should not have been the same way,” the 92-year old CEO said.
Buffet suggested Norfolk Southern should have listened better to the residents affected by the disaster, and the medical and lifestyle hardships they endured as a result. He called the railroad company’s response “tone deaf.”
BNSF had two of its own derailments recently, occurring on the same day in two separate states. On March 16, one train derailed in Arizona, while another derailed in Washington state, spilling diesel fuel onto tribal land. Buffet told CNBC he would rather BNSF not have to haul toxic chemicals, but is required to by law. “We would rather not handle hazardous material. We are a common carrier, we’re required to carry, whether it’s chlorine or you name it,” he said. ”To say that there will never be any more derailments is just plain crazy.”
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: BLOOMBERG