NTSB Chair Says Derailment was Preventable

Although the Feb 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine is described as an accident, a federal safety investigator said this week it was preventable.

Speaking at a news conference, Jennifer Homendy, chair of the National Transportation Board, said, “every single event that we investigate is preventable.”

She said the Board doesn’t have field investigative hearings often but will do so in reviewing the East Palestine derailment.

That investigation is expected to take 12 to 18 months. The field hearing is expected to be held this spring and include invited witnesses.

Investigators have said their focus is on a wheelset bearing that overheated and wayside defect detectors that alerted the train crew to the problem before their train derailed.

Homendy said there is no evidence that track defects, operational issues, or the actions of the crew played a role in the derailment.

“We know what derailed the train,” she said, pointing to catastrophic wheel bearing failure.

Various public officials, trade groups and others have turned the East Palestine into an opportunity to advance their policy and political agendas, something that Homendy noted during her remarks.

“Safety is the only thing we care about,” she said. “Politics is left at the door.”

Homendy described East Palestine as a community that is suffering. “This is about addressing their needs, their concerns.”

She said people need to know whether they live or work near a hazmat route so that they can better recognize and respond to an emergency in the event of a toxic release.

In a related development, NS said it would donate $300,000 without condition to the East Palestine schools.

The money is expected to be used to support the district’s academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and its long-term contingency planning regarding the effects of the derailment.

The funding will be divided evenly among the district’s three schools.

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One Response to “NTSB Chair Says Derailment was Preventable”

  1. pwwoodring Says:

    The employees and the fans know what happened. NS rolled the dice on the indicated hotbox being a false alarm with the two previous defect detectors, told the crew to continue on, and rolled snake eyes when it failed and derailed on the third one. The invention of a Defect Detector (DD) “Help Desk” is a recent development in the last few years, something I never heard of during my career. When a DD warns a train crew of a hot box, they call the dispatcher who tells a supervisor monitoring all system DDs in Atlanta where it is and they determine whether it is bad enough for the crew to stop the train and inspect it. The previous two detectors indicated that axle was 40 degrees and 103 degrees respectively above ambient air temperature, but not hot enough to stop for. The detector at East Palestine indicated the axle was 253 degrees above ambient air temperature, and finally the “help desk” told the crew to stop and inspect it moments before it failed and derailed the train. This wreck just might be the end of the “help desk”, if there is any common sense left in the World.

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