As Norfolk Southern’s CEO prepares to go before the Senate this week, the company released a six-point safety plan in response to last month’s derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
The plan was based on the National Transportation Safety Board's initial findings, Norfolk Southern said. The company also had to respond to a derailment on Saturday in Springfield, Ohio, which temporarily prompted a “shelter-in-place” order for nearby residents.
"Reading the NTSB report makes it clear that meaningful safety improvements require a comprehensive industry effort that brings together railcar and tank car manufacturers, railcar owners and lessors, and the railroad companies," said Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan H. Shaw. "We are eager to help drive that effort and we are not waiting to take action."
The train was carrying many hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride. Two days after the Feb. 3 derailment, state of Ohio officials ordered the town to evacuate as chemicals were burned to prevent an explosion.
The six points of the plan include:
- Enhance the hot bearing detector network
- Pilot next-generation hot bearing detectors
- Work with industry on practices for hot bearing detectors
- Deploy more acoustic bearing detectors
- Accelerate its Digital Train Inspection program
- Support a strong safety culture
According to the NTSB's report, as the train traveled, it passed through hot bearing detectors, which detect the train's bearing temperature. About 30 miles from the site of the derailment, a temperature of 34 degrees above ambient temperature was recorded. Ten miles out, that temperature increased to 103 degrees. Near the derailment's location, that temperature was up to 253 degrees above the ambient temperature.
It is considered critical when the temperature reaches 200 degrees above the ambient temperature. At 115 degrees, the NTSB says the train must come to a stop for an inspection.
Norfolk Southern noted that its crew "operated the train within the company's rules and operated the train below the track speed limit."