NTSB Identifies Rail Car Suspected of Triggering East Palestine Derailment on NS Fort Wayne Line

Aerial view of East Palestine derailment site provided by National Transportation Safety Board

Investigators have identified the rail car that is believed to have triggered a Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine and are focusing on a wheel bearing suspected of overheating.

The National Transportation Safety Board released on Tuesday a revised summary of the derailment that also indicated that just 38 cars of the train derailed of which 11 contained hazardous materials.

Earlier reports had said 50 cars of the 150-car train derailed. The train originated in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis, and was bound for Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

The derailment led to a massive fire and the release of hazardous substances. Hundreds of residents were forced from their home for a few days a result.

“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 NTSB report said.

The wheelset of the suspected rail car will be reviewed by an NTSB lab in Washington as part of a metallurgical examination.

The NTSB report said the agency has obtained locomotive event recorder data, forward- and inward-facing image recording data and wayside defect detector data.

Tanks cars at the derailment site continue to be decontaminated. Once that process is complete, NTSB investigators will return to the derailment site to continue gathering information about the tank cars involved in the crash.

Some components of the derailed tank cars will be examined by a laboratory in Texas.

A preliminary report is expected to be published in two weeks. The latest NTSB findings on the derailment can be read at https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Pages/RRD23MR005.aspx

In a related development, NS plans to install wells in East Palestine and to test soil samples.

The cleanup of the derailment site thus far has removed 180,000 gallons of oil and water from the area.

Workers also have collected water samples from the city’s drinking water supply, private wells, and surface and storm-sewer water.

NS said in a news release it has conducted 340 in-home air tests with 100 additional tests scheduled. The news release said the railroad has donated donated $220,000 to the East Palestine Fire Department.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has estimated that 3,500 fish were killed in 7.5 miles of streams as a result of the release of chemicals following the derailment.

Among the waterways with dead fish were Leslie Run, Bull Creek and a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek.

As a precautionary measure, a water utility company in Huntington, West Virginia, is undertaking additional steps in water treatment  and preparing to switch to a secondary water source.

West Virginia American Water said it has not seen any change in the raw water it draws from the Ohio River nor has it issued a drinking water advisory for its customers.

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