Federal Investigators Reveal What Caused Ohio Toxic Train Derailment

(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

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Alexa Schwerha Contributor
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The National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) released on Thursday a preliminary report revealing that the wheel bearings on a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals overheated before derailing in eastern Ohio earlier this month.

The train passed through hot bearing detectors (HBD) which detected it surpassed Norfolk Southern’s “critical” standard at several points, reaching over 250 degrees above ambient temperature, forcing the train to stop and leading to a fire, according to the preliminary report. Investigators examined the first car to derail and examined local surveillance footage which reportedly showed a wheel bearing overheating before the accident. (RELATED: ‘Bad Faith Attacks’: White House Defends Buttigieg, Casts Blame On Republicans And Trump For East Palestine)

“The function of the HBD is to detect overheated bearings and provide audible real-time warnings to train crews,” the preliminary report reads. “Train 32N passed three HBD systems on its trip before the derailment.”

The Norfolk Southern train derailed on Feb. 3 and caused nearly 2,000 residents to evacuate so a controlled burn could be conducted on Feb. 6, which released hazardous chemicals including vinyl chloride into the community. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) arrived on the scene hours after the derailment to assess and government officials including Republican Gov. Mike DeWine say the water and air are safe, but residents continue to raise concern about the long term effects the derailment could have.

Workers remove contaminated dirt near the railroad tracks on February 14, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

EAST PALESTINE, OH – FEBRUARY 14: Workers remove contaminated dirt near the railroad tracks on February 14, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.(Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

The train was 253 degrees above the average temperature after the third HBD, according to the report. Investigators examined the cars which carried the toxic material on Feb. 21 and documented damage and collected evidence for lab analysis.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the report.

“Future investigative activity will focus on the wheelset and bearing; tank car design and derailment damage; a review of the accident response; including the venting and burning of the vinyl chloride; railcar design and maintenance procedures and practices; NS use of wayside defect detectors; and NS railcar inspection practices,” the report reads.

The report’s release coincided with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s visit to East Palestine on Tuesday, during which he toured the derailment site and met with local officials.

NTSB and Norfolk Southern did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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