(WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has found a federal agency asking questions about railroad worker drug testing after Norfolk Southern train derailments in Sandusky and East Palestine.
So, we took a closer look.
We reviewed inspection records from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
And we found Norfolk Southern written up over concerns about drug testing of employees after two derailments. One happened last October in Sandusky. The other happened in February involving toxic chemicals in East Palestine.
Referring to the drug testing, the record show “inspectors discovered errors and or problems with the collection of the specimens” for the accidents.
We found the FRA noted “failure to observe requirements with respect to specimen collection marking and handling” and “failure to provide properly prepared forms” after the Sandusky and East Palestine derailments.
We went back to Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist and retired firefighter. He has been keeping watch on the fallout from the toxic East Palestine derailment.
He reacted to the drug testing issues raised, saying, “It’s extremely important to get the science right on this. It’s people’s lives.”
And, given everything surrounding the derailments, he said, “I think its high time that the federal government reeled this all back in. We’ve allowed corporations to get away with quite a bit.”
In fact, federal lawmakers are pushing for sweeping new rail safety regulations.
Once we found federal write-ups on the drug testing, we wondered what you might be asking.
Did it lead to any fines or punishment? The FRA tells us, to find out about that, we need to file another records request.
Norfolk Southern issued a statement. It said, “Norfolk Southern continues to work closely with the FRA (Federal Railroad Administration) and will review these instances.”
The company also says the findings should not be considered violations.
But the inspection records showing the same kinds of concerns after two crashes has put the rail line under a spotlight. The FRA tells us toxicology reports are required of rail employees after a major accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tells us the investigations are still in the early stages in the Sandusky case and the East Palestine derailment. The NTSB says an investigation can take 12-24 months to complete.