SPRINGFIELD — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continued to investigate the wheelsets from a Norfolk Southern train that derailed in Clark County Saturday, March 4. The derailment caused millions of dollars worth of damages to the surrounding area, according to NTSB’s recently released report.
News Center 7 broke the news that multiple agencies were dispatched near state Route 41 and Gateway Boulevard in Springfield at around 4:45 p.m. for Norfolk Southern’s third derailed train within a month’s time.
An investigation found that 28 railcars derailed with 21 of those railcars being loaded, while seven were empty, a spokesperson for NTSB wrote in a release. None of the derailed railcars were carrying hazardous materials.
However, News Center 7 previously reported that the incident could have been more disastrous, and mirrored the derailment in East Palestine, due to the manifest stating that 31 railcars contained hazardous materials. The train carried 25,000 gallons of benzene, which is used to make detergent and dyes.
Benzene is also “flammable, and it is carcinogenic, so inhalation is a concern,” Mark McClain, a chemistry professor at Cedarville University and chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, stated.
As the train derailed, it downed a powerline, which caused 47 homes to lose power. However, the Clark County government conflicted the information in NTSB’s report by stating that at least 1,500 residents were without power due to the downed power line, according to their Facebook post.
Ohio Edison worked to restore electricity to those in Clark County, Springfield Township, Springfield, and Bethel Township.
At the start of the event, first responders ordered a “shelter-in-place” for residents within a 1,000-foot radius of the derailment site out of precaution. They lifted the order at about 1 a.m. the next day, on March 5.
No injuries were reported during the incident.
As the investigation continued, NTSB determined that the derailment caused $2.6 million in estimated damages to the equipment, track, and signal infrastructure, the spokesperson informed.
After the 13,470-feet long and 17,966 tons train derailed, the Association of American Railroads issued an equipment inspection order on March 9, advising railroads to “inspect and remove from service wheelsets that were mounted by National Steel Car between August 2022 and March 2023,” the spokesperson said.
Then, NTSB initiated an investigation focusing on the performance of the wheels.
“The NTSB requested that [Norfolk Southern] recover eight wheelsets from two of the derailed railcars; photographs taken on scene after the derailment showed that three wheels from these wheelsets exhibited movement on their axles,” the spokesperson said. “The NTSB subsequently placed an investigative hold on these wheelsets, additional wheelsets and other truck components from the accident train, and wheelsets from elsewhere in the NS fleet for examination.”
The wheelsets and other components were delivered to a Norfolk Southern facility in Altoona, Pennsylvania, for examination on March 15.
“Future investigative activity will focus on failure analysis of the subject wheelsets and on industry-wide standards and practices for railcar wheel and axle assembly processes, specifications, and quality control,” the spokesperson said.
NTSB continues to investigate the derailment.
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