(WJW) — The Norfolk Southern train that derailed Feb. 3 in East Palestine first traveled through Cleveland, according to preliminary information released Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
That train was traveling between Madison, Illinois, and Conway, Pennsylvania, NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Gabris told FOX 8 on Friday.
“The train crew went on duty in Toledo and it went through Cleveland,” Gabris wrote.
Thirty-eight train cars derailed just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 3, sparking a fire that damaged another dozen cars, according to the board’s preliminary report. Ten of those derailed cars were carrying hazardous material including vinyl chloride and three other chemicals that weren’t initially announced. Here’s a full list of what the train was carrying.
“This has a huge direct impact. In my neighborhood, we live with the trains,” said Cleveland’s Ward 15 councilwoman Jenny Spencer in reaction to the new details.
The board is still working to determine the exact route, but Spencer said it most likely traveled along a rail line in her ward.
“This is what we are concerned about, and we need answers from those who are responsible for keeping us safe by regulating the freight rail industry,” said Spencer.
The seriousness of the situation has prompted Cleveland City Council to consider a hearing where they would call upon agencies involved in regulation and oversight.
“At the end of the day, there are certain entities that are responsible for knowing where these trains are going and when,” said Spencer.
The East Palestine derailment dumped toxic chemicals into waterways and led to an hours-long controlled burn on Feb. 6, during which a thick, black plume rose over the town.
Meanwhile, Cleveland officials are assuring residents that the city’s water is safe. According to the city’s water department, the events in East Palestine did not affect Cleveland’s water source.
Footage in the player below shows what appears to be the undercarriage of the train glowing as it passes by a Salem, Ohio, business on Feb. 3. (Video courtesy of Butech Bliss via Storyful.)
The board in its initial report suggested it may have been caused by an overheating wheel bearing. The board cited surveillance footage of the train captured at a residence that indicates one of its wheel bearings was “in the final stage of overheat failure” moments before the derailment. That wheel bearing was on the car that “initiated the derailment,” according to the release.
In surveillance footage taken about 45 minutes before the incident near the Salem business Butech Bliss, the undercarriage of the train can be seen glowing. Salem is about 20 miles northwest of East Palestine in Columbiana County.
The board is now in the process of reviewing data from the train’s instruments to figure out exactly what happened, said Gabris.
“As part of our investigation, NTSB investigators and engineers will review all of the data and sync the different sources to develop a detailed sequence of events,” Gabris wrote.
And while the board investigates that timeline, Spencer called for an investigation into Norfolk Southern’s operating ratio, and whether it is consolidating rail lines to save money, or “if they have been allowed to.”
“If so, it becomes a national conversation, and I am horrified that Ohio has become the poster child of this and now Cleveland,” said Spencer.