Clean-up efforts continue on parts of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3. 9, 2023.
Gene J. Boscar | AP
Southern Norfolk Supervisors did not address the engineers’ safety concerns before a train laden with toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio in February, according to to preliminary findings released Thursday from the National Transportation Safety Board investigation.
The day before the train derailed, an engineer in Decatur, Illinois, expressed concern about the size of the train to the train operator, according to the NTSB. The results showed that the engineer told the agency he was told, “Well, that’s what they want.”
“If you talk to the manager, they say this train is 100 percent compliant with the rules. For me, in my opinion, you know, I got 32 percent weight on port. 20 percent weight on the middle and 40 percent weight on the port,” said the Decatur engineer.
Norfolk Southern responded by saying that the Federal Railroad Administration had not established regulatory requirements for train configuration, and that the train had met its internal policies regarding train configuration at the time of the East Palestine derailment.
“Every accident is a learning opportunity,” South Norfolk spokesman Conor Spellmaker told CNBC. “We are collaborating with labor leadership and our craft staff to enhance safety, we’ve brought on an outside safety advisor, and we are committed to leading the industry.” in a letter.
The NTSB released its findings before it began a two-day hearing on the derailment Thursday. The hearing is intended to address preparedness during initial emergency response, the decision-making process regarding venting and incineration of vinyl chloride tank cars, and an examination of the failure modes of bearing freight and roadside detection systems.
in feb. 3, A Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed, releasing toxic chemicals into the environment near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw pledged support to the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, though critics said he didn’t go far enough.
The Transportation Communications Association told the NTSB in a separate statement that three minutes to three minutes and 45 seconds is enough for maintenance personnel to check a train car. But the union said Norfolk Southern has cut average inspection time to about one minute by following the company’s new train scheduling strategies, which TCU believes are insufficient to conduct a thorough inspection of every train.
The company replied that it does not have a policy specifying when cars are inspected.
Norfolk Southern has made another exception to the union’s claim, saying the current average time to check a vehicle is roughly two minutes. It is a minute longer than the average set by professional rail drivers who carry out the same check and serves as a guide to rail crews, the company said.
“It is not accurate to say that NS has ‘cut down’ the standard amount of vehicle inspection time since implementing the PSR. What we’ve done is document and standardize what the proper inspection would look like, and the time it should take a railroad to complete that inspection,” said Spielmaker.