‘Transparency matters;’ Clark County, state officials stress no dangers to public after derailment

SPRINGFIELD — Cleanup efforts continue a day after nearly 30 cars detached from a Norfolk Southern freight train in Springfield Saturday.

Multiple agencies were dispatched near state Route 41 and Gateway Boulevard in Springfield at around 4:45 p.m. Saturday after receiving an emergency alarm for a possible train derailment, according to Springfield Township Fire Chief Dave Nangle.

>> PHOTOS: Cleanup underway after Norfolk Southern train derails in Springfield

Once on scene crews realized that multiple trains had derailed and worked to make the scene safe for crews to begin cleanup.

During the crash, a large high-tension power line was hit creating an electrical hazard and preventing crews from being able to get close to the scene, Nangle said.

Ohio Edison cut power to the area impacting over 600 residents in the area. As of Sunday, power has been restored to most.

>> PREVIOUS COVERAGE: ‘No risk to public health’ after Norfolk Southern train derailment in Clark Co.

Once it was safe, members of the Springfield Township Fire Department, Springfield Fire Division and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency viewed the scene from a helicopter.

After this, and with an itinerary of what was inside the train cars provided by Norfolk Southern officials, all agencies determined there was no threat to public health.

Unlike on Feb. 3, when a 38-car Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, carrying highly toxic and combustible chemical compounds that made cleanup difficult for crews and presented a danger to nearby residents with hazardous materials leaking into the environment.

>> East Palestine derailment: Timeline of key events in toxic train disaster

Crews made note of the four of the around 28 cars that derailed: two tankers with residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid and the other two with residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution.

Polyacrylamide is a water-soluble polymer that is often used in paper production, agriculture, food processing, and even water treatment.

“There was no release of any chemical or any hazardous material to the soil to the air to the water. We are of course tracking that closely,” Ohio EPA Director Ann Vogel said during a press conference Sunday afternoon.

Vogel did add that non-hazardous PVC pellets did spill from one rail car and EPA will continue to monitor its impacts on the soil.

>> PHOTOS: Drone footage shows train derailment near Clark County Fairgrounds

Vogel’s statement were echoed by officials from the Clark County Combined Health District, Clark County EMA and hazmat coordinators.

“We’re looking at clean air, clean soil, and clean water for our residents,” Charles Patterson, health commissioner for Clark County Combined Health District said.

Kraig Barner, general manager for Norfolk Southern, said his crews worked with first responders and hazmat teams overnight and will continue to do so as cleanup efforts continue.

During the press conference Sunday, some questioned Barner on what is being done by Norfolk Southern after another derailment a little over a month after East Palestine.

>> Regional, national leaders react to train derailment in Springfield

“Safety is our number one priority with this derailment, just like every other derailment. We do a full investigation and if there’s takeaways or things we learn from the derailment, we implement those. I will say that derailments of this type for our company is actually on the decline year over year,” Barner said.

Barner said it is estimated that 12 hours of track work will need to be done after all the cars are cleared from the roadway. The company is expected to get asphalt in on Tuesday he added.

State Route 41 remained closed during the cleanup. The Ohio Department of Transportation noted that official detours are:

  • Northbound: I-70 west to S.R. 72 north to S.R. 41 north
  • Southound: S.R. 72 south to I-70 east to S.R. 41 south

The cause of the derailment remains under investigation, Barner said.

This is a developing story and News Center 7 will continue to update as new information becomes available.

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