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NTSB to investigate Norfolk Southern Railway after multiple recent accidents

Following multiple recent incidents, the National Transportation Safety Board has decided to open an investigation into Norfolk Southern.

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The NTSB said that they are investigating the “organization and safety culture” at Norfolk Southern.

Over the last few weeks, there have been multiple incidents involving Norfolk Southern including one early Tuesday where a conductor was killed in a crash with a dump truck in Cleveland, Ohio.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Twitter that Federal Railroad Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are helping with the investigation into Tuesday’s incident.

“Our thoughts are with the family facing this preventable tragedy. Now more than ever, it is time for stronger freight railroad accountability and safety,” said Buttigieg.

NTSB said that they are looking into five significant accidents that involve Norfolk Southern since Dec. 2021. Here are the incidents according to the news release:

  • Dec. 8, 2021 - A worker with National Salvage and Service Corporation was to work with Norfolk Southern to replace a track. The worker was killed when the spike machine operator reversed their direction and hit the worker. This was in Reed, Pennsylvania.
  • Dec. 13, 2022 - A Norfolk Southern trainee conductor was killed and another was injured when the lead locomotive for the company freight train hit a steel angle iron that protruded from a gondola car on another freight train that was on another track. This was in Bessemer, Alabama.
  • Feb. 3, 2023 - A Norfolk Southern freight train with hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio which led to significant damage, a massive fire, and a hazardous materials release.
  • March 4, 2023 - A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in Springfield, Ohio.
  • March 7, 2023 - A Norfolk Southern conductor was killed in a crash with a dump truck in Cleveland, Ohio.

NTSB also said in the news release that they are reviewing a Norfolk Southern derailment in Sandusky, Ohio on Oct. 28, 2022.

“The NTSB will conduct an in-depth investigation into the safety practices and culture of the company,” NTSB said, according to the Washington Post. “At the same time, the company should not wait to improve safety.”

On Monday, Norfolk Southern announced its plans to improve the use of detectors that are placed along the tracks to “spot overheating bearings” or any other issues. According to The Associated Press, this was in response to the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Around 5,000 people had to evacuate the area following the Feb. 3 derailment as responders “intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the derailed cars to prevent an uncontrolled explosion,” the AP reported. Many residents have been concerned about their health but officials say they conducted tests of the water and air but said they didn’t find any dangerous chemical levels.

The AP reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment but they have not yet responded.

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