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HomeLife InsuranceNTSB Proposes Major Safety Changes After 2023 Ohio Train Derailment

NTSB Proposes Major Safety Changes After 2023 Ohio Train Derailment

The National Transportation Safety Board opened a meeting Tuesday to determine the probable cause of a February 2023 Norfolk Southern NSC.N train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio and is making sweeping recommendations to boost rail safety.

The derailment forced residents to temporarily abandon their homes after the train caught fire and released over a million gallons of hazardous materials and pollutants near the state’s border with Pennsylvania. Last month, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay a $15 million civil penalty and $57.1 million in past government cleanup costs, as well as millions in future costs to resolve a U.S. government lawsuit.

NTSB staff want the Federal Railroad Administration to set new safety regulations for inspections and maintenance of heat bearing detectors, also called box detectors or wayside detectors. The devices identify potential train safety issues by measuring temperature as they pass.

Board staff also wants USDOT to establish a replacement schedule to stop the use of tank cars like some in the Ohio derailment and replace them with newer, safer tank cars. The NTSB staff also wants the state of Ohio to improve volunteer firefighter training standards and to speed transmittal of information to emergency responders about hazardous materials.

Under a proposed consent decree estimated to be worth more than $310 million, the railroad also agreed to significant safety improvements and training, which includes installing additional devices to detect overheated wheel bearings early enough to prevent derailments like the Ohio derailment. Norfolk Southern says under the agreement it will spend $244 million on safety initiatives through 2025.

The incident sparked public outrage and calls for railroad safety reforms in Congress but legislation has stalled. Some lawmakers had said they wanted to wait for NTSB’s report before acting on safety changes.

Norfolk Southern, which did not admit wrongdoing, said last month the deal means the company will face no criminal penalties and the settlement is included in the around $1.7 billion in related charges to date for the incident. It added the settlement will not require it to take additional charges.

In April, Norfolk Southern agreed to pay $600 million to settle a class action lawsuit over the derailment. The settlement covers personal injury claims from residents and businesses in the city and impacted surrounding communities.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Photo: FILE – A black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk Southern trains, Feb. 6, 2023.

Topics Ohio

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