NS Inspects all Defect Detectors

Norfolk Southern has inspected all of its nearly 1,000 wayside heat detectors in the wake of a derailment in East Palestine that forced hundreds of residents to evacuate their homes because of leakage of hazardous chemicals.

That inspection found all of them were operating as designed, NS said in a statement.

The performance of defect detectors has been a subject of conversation following the derailment, which National Transportation Safety Board investigators say was likely caused by catastrophic wheel bearing failure.

NTSB investigators noted that the temperature of the faulty wheel bearing as measured by detectors had increased over a 30 mile stretch before the train derailed.

By the time a detector in East Palestine gave an alarm directing the crews to stop its train, it was too late to prevent the derailment.

NS claimed in its statement that its detectors trigger an alarm at a temperature among the lowest in the rail industry. The statement noted that all detectors are inspected every 30 days.

“Norfolk Southern will develop practices and invest in technologies that could help prevent an incident like this in the future,” the statement said. “We will also work with the owners of the rail cars on the integrity and safety of the equipment we use.”

A preliminary NTSB report on the Feb. 3 derailment said the bearing on the 32nd car of the eastbound manifest freight that derailed had a recorded temperature of 38 degrees above the ambient temperature when it passed a detector in Sebring.

By the time the train passed a detector in Salem the temperature had increased to 103 degrees above ambient temperature.

A detector in East Palestine showed a temperature 253 degrees above ambient, which triggered the alarm to stop the train.

Although the locomotive engineer began slowing the train, it was too late to prevent the derailment.

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