‘Enough with the politics’: Derailment investigator takes aim at partisan sniping, misinfo

“There’s a whole lot of misinformation on what would have prevented this,” she mentioned. “Everyone seems to be guessing. I noticed it throughout media, which was driving me nuts. These options, all of the ones I heard of, are usually not the options.”

She hinted at an article that circulated quickly after the derailment blaming it on a rule that may have mandated sooner brakes on some trains, which was withdrawn in 2017. She mentioned these brakes wouldn’t have prevented this derailment and even have considerably lowered its severity.

Homendy mentioned the hypothesis about trigger, a lot of which is fake, is doubly irritating as a result of as soon as the last report is issued, “we get ignored.” Although the NTSB investigates severe transportation accidents, the modifications their investigations suggest are usually not mandated until an company or Congress decides to behave on them.


NTSB’s preliminary report launched Thursday confirmed that the engineer at the controls of the Norfolk Southern prepare that derailed in Ohio tried to cease the prepare following a warning about an overheating wheel, however by that point a number of vehicles had already come off the tracks.

In accordance with the report, earlier than it derailed, the prepare handed three detectors meant to alert prepare crew to bodily issues, together with overheating wheels. Although the prepare detectors confirmed certainly one of the wheels was steadily getting hotter, it didn’t attain a temperature Norfolk Southern thought-about vital till it handed the third detector and alerted, as outlined by the Nationwide Transportation Security Board.

When the prepare handed that final detector, the detector “transmitted a vital audible alarm message instructing the crew to gradual and cease the prepare to examine a scorching axle,” the report mentioned.

By then, the engineer was already attempting to gradual the prepare as a result of it was behind one other prepare. Upon listening to the alarm, the engineer elevated the software of the brakes, after which automated emergency brakes initiated, bringing the prepare to a cease.

When it stopped, the crew “noticed hearth and smoke and notified the Cleveland East dispatcher of a potential derailment,” the report mentioned.

Thirty-eight vehicles derailed and 12 extra had been broken in the ensuing hearth.

The hopper automobile with the overheating bearing was carrying plastic pellets, which caught hearth when the axle overheated, Homendy mentioned.

The placards that designate which vehicles are carrying hazardous supplies — and which she mentioned are “vital in response and in defending the group,” had been additionally fabricated from plastic and melted. NTSB could suggest a distinct materials for the placards.

The main target of the investigation is on the wheelset and the bearings. They’re additionally wanting at the design of the tank vehicles themselves, the accident response, together with the venting and burning of the vinyl chloride, railcar design and upkeep procedures and practices, Norfolk Southern’s use of wayside defect detectors, and Norfolk Southern’s railcar inspection practices.

NTSB plans to carry a uncommon investigative area listening to close to the web site in the spring with the targets of informing the public, amassing factual info from witnesses, discussing potential options and constructing consensus for change.

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