Norfolk Southern very sorry about toxic train crash and will "do the right thing" so long as it doesn't involve paying compensation homeowners

Homeowners living near the site of the Norfolk Southern train crash and resulting chemical fire are in the hole in another way: their properties are worth less. The company has no plans to compensate them, reports CNN.

At Thursday's Senate hearing on the crash, Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked Shaw four different times to commit to compensating homeowners, only to hear Shaw repeatedly reply, "Senator, I'm committed to do what's right."

Markey said that wasn't an acceptable answer.

"Will you commit to insuring that these families, these innocent families do no lose their life savings in their homes and small businesses? The right thing to do is to say, 'Yes we will.'" Markey told Shaw. "These families want to know long term are they just going to be left behind. Once the cameras move on, once the national attention dies down, where will these families be? I think they're going to be in the crosshairs of the accountants of Norfolk Southern saying 'We're not going to pay full compensation.'"

That the company has any choice in the matter is the problem. If you're thinking "lawsuits!", that's the relaxing outcome that Norfolk Southern hopes to enjoy. These are modest residences, the homeowners are not at leisure to spend years of their lives pursuing the lost value in court, and there's no guarantee of a just result.