A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) contains initial findings on the most likely causes of the derailment of 150 Norfolk Southern Railway cars in eastern Palestine on February 3, NBC News reported.
A detector built into the train transmitted an emergency message to the crew after the first derailed car of the train, 23, “detected the temperature of the suspect bearing at 253 degrees Fahrenheit (122 degrees Celsius) above the room temperature”, according to the message. . Earlier, the detector recorded a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius above the environment. According to the NTSB, anything within the 75 degree elevation range must stop immediately. The driver stopped the train, after which the crew noticed fire and smoke and notified the dispatcher of a possible derailment. “With dispatch permission, the brigade applied the hand brakes on two head cars of the train, uncoupled the lead locomotives and moved the locomotives approximately one mile from the uncoupled cars,” the statement read.
The train was carrying dangerous chemicals, and after the derailment, the small town in East Palestine, Ohio was gripped by fear and anxiety. Some publications have written about the recurrence of Chernobyl in the United States. The report also describes why the authorities opted for the controlled combustion of a chemical, vinyl chloride, a few days after the accident. The temperature inside a tank truck carrying the liquid continued to rise, indicating the chemical was undergoing a reaction that increased the risk of an explosion, NTSB officials said.
In total, the train was carrying 115,580 gallons of vinyl chloride, a flammable carcinogen used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for packaging and other products. During the controlled release, rescuers dug ditches to contain the liquid as it evaporated and burned. The report says that as a result of these efforts, the designated evacuation area has expanded to an area of one and a half kilometers by three kilometers.
The union representing the railway said Norfolk Southern, which carried dangerous goods, had long prioritized speed over safety.
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