Just weeks after the disastrous vinyl chloride spill in New Palestine, Ohio, a Norfolk Sothern train near the town of Jasper, Alabama derailed and spilled oil and diesel. Fortunately for the town, no highly toxic chemicals like vinyl chloride were spilled or set on fire by authorities, drenching the area in phosgene gas.
The Jasper Police Department posted about the derailed train incident on their Facebook page, saying:
Jasper Police were notified of a train derailment earlier tonight in the area of 1350 Old Russelville Road. According to Norfolk Southern, the train crew was briefly trapped in the engine room because the engine tilted over. There were no major injuries, but RPS was called to the scene to evaluate the crew and transported two crew members as a precaution.
Per Norfolk Southern personnel, there were no hazardous materials involved in the derailment or released into the area.
Jasper Fire called all personnel in to assist the crew in getting out of the train and managing the scene, along with Jasper Police. Norfolk Southern and Walker County EMA are remaining on the scene to return the track to service.
Norfolk Southern issued a statement on the matter as well, saying, “During the derailment, the locomotive rolled onto its side and as a result spilled some diesel fuel and engine oil. Norfolk Southern crews have responded and have been working through the night on cleanup, and all of the involved cars have been cleared from the track.”
Norfolk Southern issues a press statement after the East Palestine disaster as well. In that statement, the company said:
Since the incident, Norfolk Southern has focused on supporting the Village of East Palestine and the NTSB throughout their investigation. NTSB investigators have worked tirelessly, and we appreciate everything they are doing. We share the NTSB Chair’s frustration about the significant misinformation about the incident.
Norfolk Southern will continue to support the NTSB’s investigation. Their preliminary report indicates:
- The rail crew operated the train within the company’s rules.
- The rail crew operated the train below the track speed limit.
- The wayside heat detectors were operating as designed.
- Once the rail crew was alerted by the wayside detector, they immediately began to stop the train.
The company’s wayside detectors on its network trigger an alarm at a temperature threshold that is among the lowest in the rail industry.
At Norfolk Southern, our highest priority is the safety of our people and the communities and customers we serve. Under the supervision of the Federal Railroad Administration, the company has inspected all wayside detectors in the area of the incident and found they were operating as designed. Out of an abundance of caution, Norfolk Southern is now inspecting all of the nearly 1,000 wayside heat detectors on its system – on top of the regular inspection of the detectors every 30 days.
We and the rail industry need to learn as much as we can from this event. Norfolk Southern will develop practices and invest in technologies that could help prevent an incident like this in the future. We will also work with the owners of the rail cars on the integrity and safety of the equipment we use.
The speculation and misinformation about this incident have been extremely upsetting to the citizens of East Palestine. Norfolk Southern remains committed to the people of the community and will continue its work to help them thrive. Already, we have made significant progress in cleaning the site, engaging the community, and providing financial support for families and small businesses, all to help East Palestine.
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