WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reported that the investigation into the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, Ohio is ongoing. NTSB investigators have identified and examined the rail car that is suspected to have caused the derailment.
The eastbound general merchandise freight train 32N derailed on main track 1 in East Palestine at around 8:54 p.m. local time, resulting in the derailment of 38 rail cars and a fire that damaged an additional 12 cars. Of the 20 total hazardous material cars in the train, 11 derailed. There were no reported fatalities or injuries.
The NTSB is conducting a safety investigation to determine the probable cause of the derailment and to issue any necessary safety recommendations to prevent future incidents. The agency can also issue urgent recommendations at any point during the investigation.
The parties involved in the investigation include the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Village of East Palestine, Norfolk Southern Railway, Trinity Industries Leasing Company, GATX Corporation, Brotherhood of Railway Carmen, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, and Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
NTSB investigators have identified and examined the rail car that is believed to have initiated the derailment. Surveillance video from a residence showed a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment. The wheelset from the suspected rail car has been collected as evidence for metallurgical examination, while the suspected overheated wheel bearing has been collected for examination by NTSB engineers in Washington, D.C.
The tank cars are currently being decontaminated, and NTSB investigators will return to Ohio to complete a thorough examination of the tank cars once the process is complete.
The NTSB has obtained locomotive event recorder data, forward- and inward-facing image recording data, and wayside defect detector data, and investigators continue to review documentation, event recorder data, and conduct interviews. A preliminary report is expected to be published in two weeks.