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NTSB: Ohio train received no warning until just before derailment

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The crew of a freight train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, didn’t receive a critical warning about the shaft overheating until just before dozens of carriages derailed, the crews said. Federal safety investigators said in a report Thursday as US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made the first visit to the crash scene.

An engineer slowed down and stopped the train after receiving a “severe audible alarm message”. according to preliminary report equal National Traffic Safety Board. The crew then saw fire and smoke and alerted the dispatcher to the possibility of a derailment, the report said.

The report said investigators were focusing on the axle that heated up as the train went down the track, but did not reach the train stop threshold, and examined it until just before the derailment. According to safety investigators, the train was traveling at about 47 mph at the time, 50 mph below the speed limit.

Governor of the Republic of Ohio, Lt. Jon Husted told CNN before the release of the report that its findings likely form the basis for a criminal referral from the state. He also said rail company Norfolk Southern should temporarily relocate those who continue to feel unsafe, or even consider buying their property.

“It is the responsibility of the railway industry and government officials at the federal, state and local levels to be accountable and act rightly before the citizens of East Palestine,” Husted said.

The administration of Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro has forwarded criminal records on Norfolk Southern to the state attorney general’s office.

NTSB announced its preliminary findings as Buttigieg toured the crash site on Thursday after being criticized for not arriving sooner, and amid growing criticism over the overall response. federal government for the February 3 derailment.

Speaking to reporters afterward, Buttigieg said he was “trying to strike the right balance” between showing support on the ground and allowing the safety board to take the lead from the start.

He praised the community’s “resilience, determination and correctness” amid the impact of the disaster itself and media and political attention.

The Biden White House has defended its response to the train derailment, saying officials from I have to go to school every day, the traffic safety department and other agencies were at the rural site within hours of the derailment. The White House said it has also offered federal assistance and that FEMA has coordinated with the state’s emergency operations center and other partners.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan has been to East Palestine several times, most recently Tuesday as EPA has ordered Norfolk Southern to pay for the cleaning. The Department of Transportation said Buttigieg is currently visiting because the EPA has declared the emergency phase of the crash to have ended and the start of long-term cleanup efforts are underway.

When asked on Thursday about the criticisms aimed at the administration during a visit to Donald Trump’s site on Wednesday, Buttigieg said that if the former president feels strongly about efforts to increase rail safety, then “one thing he could do is express support for reversing the deregulation that happened on the clock.”

Buttigieg criticized Norfolk Southern and other freight rail companies for resisting regulations that he said would “hold them accountable and other rail companies accountable for safety records.” What we’ve seen is this industry going to Washington and achieving their goals.” He pressed Congress to act.

Heather Bable, who lives two blocks from the derailment site, said she was relieved when the heads of government finally showed up.

“We needed that attention because we didn’t get it. They’re supposed to be here all the time,” said Bable, who may not have been aware of the EPA and NTSB’s time in place since the February 6 derailment. She was one of a large number of residents lining the streets in the pouring rain to greet Trump on Wednesday.

The reception of Buttigieg was certainly more muted, with little fanfare around the village of just under 5,000 inhabitants. Trump won nearly 72 percent of the vote in this Republican-dominated district in the 2020 election.

Buttigieg’s visit comes nearly three weeks after more than three dozen freight cars – including 11 carrying dangerous materials – derailed in an East Palestinian suburb near the Pennsylvania state line, prompting an investigation to start head. evacuation as fears grow of a potential explosion of smoldering rubble.

Officials were trying to avoid an uncontrolled explosion that intentionally released and burned toxic vinyl chloride from five train cars, sending flames and black smoke into the sky. That has people questioning the potential health effects even as authorities insist they are doing their best to protect people.

As work on the site remediation continues, Norfolk Southern announced late Wednesday that it had agreed to excavate the soil under two tracks. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine criticized the railroad company’s failure to address the contaminated land beneath the tracks earlier. repair them and ship the goods back.

“Our original plan would be to effectively and safely dispose of the soil under our tracks. As I’ve listened to community members over the past two weeks, they’ve shared with me their concerns about that approach. I appreciate direct feedback and I am working on it,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw said in a written statement.

US Democratic Representative Chris Deluzio, whose Pennsylvania county borders the disaster area in East Palestine, has asked Norfolk Southern to expand the boundaries of the geographic area to which it is providing financial assistance. and testing. He asserted that the current area does not include many affected Pennsylvania residents and businesses, and said the company should commit to cleaning up land and water within 30 miles (48 km) of that area.

“Norfolk Southern does not demonstrate any commitment to rebuilding lost trust in our community,” Deluzio wrote in a letter to Shaw. Providing additional resources “will help your company restore the sense of security that the Norfolk Southern derailment and its aftermath destroyed.”

The Ohio Senate president, meanwhile, announced a public hearing on the derailment next week to hear testimony from state officials.


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