Railcars with loose wheels discovered during cleanup, Norfolk Southern says

Railcars with loose wheels discovered during cleanup, Norfolk Southern says


By Faris Tanyos

/ CBS News

Norfolk Southern CEO grilled by senators

Norfolk Southern CEO grilled by senators about East Palestine train derailment


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the loose cars were found in the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment. The story has been updated to show that Norfolk Southern was referring to the derailment in Springfield, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern — the railway company whose train derailed last month in East Palestine, Ohio, contaminating the surrounding area with toxic chemicals — announced Thursday night that it had determined that some of its railcars involved in a different derailment had loose wheels. 

During its cleanup of a derailment site in Springfield, Ohio, Norfolk Southern investigators discovered that a “specific model and series of railcars had loose wheels,” the company said in a news release Thursday night. Investigators called the discovery “an urgent safety issue.”

The wheels came from “a series of recently acquired cars from a specific manufacturer,” Norfolk Southern said. Norfolk Southern did not identify the manufacturer, or say if or how many of the railcars specifically involved in the Springfield crash were part of that model and series.

The Springfield derailment occurred on Sunday. Twenty cars of a 212-car train derailed, leading about 1,000 residents to shelter in place as a precaution, CBS Pittsburgh reported. About 1,500 people lost power. No toxic chemicals were involved in the derailment. 

Cleanup Continues In East Palestine, Ohio Weeks After Disastrous Derailment Spilled Hazardous Material
A Norfolk Southern contractor walks away from the tracks as a train approaches on March 9, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio. 

Michael Swensen / Getty Images

The Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were “immediately notified and began inspecting other cars from this series on our network,” Norfolk Southern said.

The company added that the cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The announcement came on the same day that Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw appeared before a Senate panel to address the East Palestine crisis and several recent derailments of Norfolk Southern trains, including one that occurred earlier Thursday in Alabama. Shaw vowed the company “will clean the site thoroughly, and with urgency. We are making progress every day.”

He added that the company had also slated $20 million for reimbursements and investments for families and first responders effected by the incident.

On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in a fiery crash in East Palestine. Of the 38 cars that derailed, about 10 contained hazardous materials. Hundreds of residents were evacuated, and crews later conducted a controlled release of toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, because of the risk that the derailment could cause an explosion.

State and federal officials have faced significant criticism over their response to the East Palestine incident, with local residents concerned that the contamination to the area could pose significant long-term health risks. 

Melissa Quinn contributed to this report. 

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