National Transportation Safety Board Chair: Norfolk Southern’s New Safety Goals ‘Not Robust Enough’

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair said on Sunday that Norfolk Southern‘s proposed “six-point strategy” safety plan is “not robust enough,” following multiple mishaps from the railroad giant that included the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw testified before the U.S. Senate last week over a month after a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine creating a fiery catastrophe which jeopardized both the health of residents and the environment.

The company has also come under fire when one of its freight trains derailed earlier this month close to Springfield, Ohio. On last Tuesday, Norfolk Southern reported that one of its conductors had died near Cleveland, Ohio, after being hit by a dump truck while a Norfolk Southern train was traveling through a crossing at a steel mill.

On last Thursday, Shaw assured senators that Norfolk Southern would quickly, properly, and securely clean the East Palestine site. Also, he stated that he is dedicated to enhancing the company’s safety culture, but he declined to commit to a number of safety-related initiatives that lawmakers had brought to him.

According to NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy (pictured above), Shaw’s attempt to initiate a safety plan is not up to the board’s standards.

“They are not robust enough. I think we’ll be looking at more recommendations as part of our investigation,” Homendy said.

The NTSB, which looks into transportation mishaps, opened a special inquiry into Norfolk Southern last week to examine the organization and safety culture of the business. The board said that an overheated wheel bearing was to blame for the derailment in East Palestine.

The board announced that it is also looking into three further Norfolk Southern occurrences, including two fatalities in 2021 and 2022 and a train derailment last year in Sandusky, Ohio, in addition to the recent mishaps at the railroad business.

Homendy stated that the five vinyl chloride cars in the train that derailed in East Palestine had five valves that were in charge of releasing pressure. This week, the NTSB will test those valves. Thousands of pounds of vinyl chloride, a substance connected to numerous cancers, were being transported by the train.

“In fact, just this week, we will be doing testing of the pressure relief valves that release that are in charge of releasing pressure of those five vinyl chloride 10 cars. We’ll see what comes of that testing. We may have recommendations towards the end that are much broader,” Homendy said.

Both Homendy and Shaw are to appear at the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee rail hearing on March 22nd.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jennifer Homendy” by NTSB and “Norfolk Southern Train” by James St. John. CC BY 2.0.


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