In shocking security footage obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, traveled at least 20 miles with a malfunctioning axle.
The video shows sparks and flames underneath the Norfolk Southern train.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, footage of the train’s fiery axle came from businesses in Salem, Ohio.
At 8:12 p.m. on Feb. 3, the southbound freight train passed by Butech Bliss, an industrial equipment manufacturer in Salem. One car, a few dozen behind the first locomotive, glowed brightly on the bottom as it passed.
A minute later and a mile down the track, a camera at a meat processing plant called Fresh Mark captured the same fiery axle.
BREAKING: New video shows sparks/flames 20 miles before the disastrous train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. pic.twitter.com/Gr0NiDOeLJ
— Upward News (@UpwardNewsHQ) February 13, 2023
The hot box detector is designed to check the heat of rail car axles.
An alert from a hot box detector on this segment of tracks captured in the security footage would have notified the crew that there was a major issue with one of the cars.
This would have required the crew to immediately stop the train before it reached East Palestine.
It’s unclear if there was an alert from the hot box detector in the area captured in the footage.
Although NTSB officials said the crew did receive an alert indicating a mechanical issue before the derailment, which initiated an emergency brake application, it’s unknown if the alert occurred in Salem or East Palestine.
There remain unanswered questions regarding the train derailment.
Was there an alert at the Salem hot box detector?
If there was an alert in Salem, was it ignored by the crew?
Did the emergency brake application fail?
Video from @PittsburghPG shows CCTV footage of one of the cars on fire miles before the derailment.
When was the crew alerted from the hot-box detectors that there was a major issue with one of the cars? It seems they began to break after the E Palestine hot-box, but possibly… https://t.co/UOfugBuJux pic.twitter.com/889tNf8k8F
— CannCon (@CannConActual) February 14, 2023
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation into the derailment, said it believes a mechanical issue with one of the rail car axles is responsible for the accident. Board member Michael Graham said at a news conference on Feb. 4 that the train crew had gotten an alert “shortly before the derailment indicating the mechanical issue,” and started to apply the brakes.
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What’s not yet known is when the alert came through.
On the railroad tracks in front of Fresh Mark, there is an instrument called a hot box detector, which scans the temperature of the passing train axles to ensure they are not overheated. If the device finds a problem, a defect detection alert sounds over the train radio.
Detecting a defect so hot that it would appear to be on fire would require the crew to stop the train immediately and inspect the problem, said Scott Wilcox, a retired Norfolk Southern engineer who worked on the Fort Wayne line, where trains travel between Chicago and the big railyard in the Beaver County town of Conway.
Hot box detectors are typically spaced every 10 to 20 miles apart, Mr. Wilcox said. On this particular track, the next detector after Salem was in East Palestine. The train would have passed that one less than a mile before derailing on Feb. 3.
If the train crew heard an alert shortly before braking, it is likely that the warning came from the detector in East Palestine.
The 20 miles between Salem and East Palestine are mostly rural, with a few towns along the way.
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