A series of train derailments in Ohio raises concerns | News, Sports, Jobs
STEUBENVILLE — In the past four months, three freight trains have derailed in Ohio.
The first, in October, was in Sandusky, where about 20 cars of a 101-car train ran off the track and landed on a busy road about 15 feet below. This train was carrying paraffin, which leaked from the crashed cars and then hardened on the pavement and in the sewers.
A month later, about 15 cars derailed between Steubenville and Toronto, spilling waste onto the shore and into the river.
And on Friday, around 50 cars, some of which were carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a violent crash in eastern Palestine. Authorities are still trying to stabilize the materials and have set up an evacuation zone that extends into Pennsylvania.
Jefferson County 911 Director Rob Herrington said derailments like the one that affected the Eastern Palestine community are “relatively rare.”
“This particular derailment is bad because so many cars went off the rails,” he said, and because of the toxic materials and the threat of tank cars exploding.
That, at least, was something they didn’t have to worry about in Sandusky.
“Their is a lot more impactful than what we had,” acting city manager John Orzech said. “Ours was paraffin wax, in liquid form until it came out of the car and hardened, but it wasn’t dangerous.”
Sandusky’s problem now is that, four months after the derailment, their town has not returned to normal.
“The underpass is still closed until we make this area safe for people to travel,” he said. “It’s the main artery of the city and people have to take alternative routes. (Norfolk Southern) moved quickly to free the derailed cars and repair the track, but after that all other processes…the concrete walls and other damaged items…move more slowly. Trains started running again within a few days, but there was a lot of collateral damage. »
Orzech said residents were “a bit frustrated” because they were supposed to have at least one lane reopened two months ago and it still hasn’t happened.
“We entered into a memorandum of understanding with a contractor to get work done that needs to be done, which the railroad told us they were going to pay for,” he said. “But we have no idea how much it will cost yet.”
He said a pumping station that takes water away from the underpass so it doesn’t flood has been badly damaged, ‘and there’s going to be a lot of costs that we’re going to have to make sure they reimburse us for … the streets. Our sewage system — we have paraffin wax in ours, there was a lot of wax so we’re going to have to redo it. The sidewalks, the street area – but the street can’t be finished until the asphalt (vendors) reopens.
Still, he’s optimistic: Sandusky’s engineer is in touch with Norfolk Southern, he said, and four months later “we think we’re on the right track, it’s just a matter of everything fix.
Herrington said railroad safety records have improved as technology has been updated.
“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes to make it safe,” he said. “A lot of times when you see landslides, it’s more because things happen… landslides, things like that that have nothing to do with railroads, it’s more Mother Nature. It is a relatively safe and heavily regulated business.
“With the railways, you can have dangerous products,” he adds. “It’s a part of everyday life, but there are a lot of regulations on what and how much of each product is allowed to be shipped, how many can be located together on a train.”
Norfolk Southern did not comment Monday on the series of derailments, their safety record or a timeline for when the situation in eastern Palestine might normalize, saying team members “are on the scene and will be assisted by multiple derailments and environmental contractors.”
“In addition to working closely with first responders, we coordinate with federal, state and local agencies,” the statement said. “The NTSB will be the lead agency to provide updates on the incident. We have established a Family Support Center to meet the needs of the community and support those directly affected. Additionally, we are supporting the efforts of the American Red Cross and their temporary community shelters with a donation of $25,000.
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