NTSB preliminary report says Ohio train crew received alert about overheated wheel bearing
The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday released a preliminary report about the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment, writing that the crew didn't know anything was wrong until a "critical audible alarm message" blasted right before the train went off the tracks.
The train, operated by Norfolk Southern, derailed on Feb. 3 while carrying toxic chemicals. Due to concerns that some of the derailed cars might explode, on Feb. 6, there was a controlled burn of the material. Many area residents say they now don't feel safe in their community, and are concerned about developing long-term health problems from the burn.
The NTSB has been trying to piece together what led to the derailment, and found that over the course of 30 miles, a wheel bearing's temperature increased by 215 degrees. Once in East Palestine, it reached the threshold Norfolk Southern set for an alarm to go off, and an engineer slowed the train down. Members of the crew then spotted fire and smoke and notified dispatch that a possible derailment had occurred.
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said on Thursday there is "no evidence that the crew did anything wrong," and investigators will now look into whether high-temperature alarm threshold and sensor spacing standards should be changed to prevent similar accidents. "This was 100 percent preventable," she said, adding that "the NTSB has one goal and that is safety, and ensuring that this never happens again."