According to an ABC 6 On Your Side report, Norfolk Southern “wiped out” most of the footage from the train cab in the moments leading up to the East Palestine train derailment.
Jennifer L. Homendy, head of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), says the footage could have provided crucial information about the derailment.
Although the camera in the locomotive had 12 hours of recording time, most of the footage cannot be used in the investigation.
“All of that – except 15 minutes before the derailment and 5 minutes after – was overwritten after the accident because they put the locomotive immediately back in service,” Homendy said.
😳 😡 Norfolk Southern wiped a video showing the moments leading up to a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that sparked a massive environmental disaster, ABC 6 On Your Side reported. https://t.co/2T3BsipAEq
— CJ4America (@GrammyC4Zone) March 25, 2023
NEW from Six on Your Side: Norfolk Southern wiped out most of video recording leading up to East Palestine wreck
National Transportation Safety Board investigating
“Like cockpit voice recorders…audio & video recorders in the locomotive cab are essential"https://t.co/s2suyh1pjl
— Darrel Rowland (@darreldrowland) March 24, 2023
From ABC 6 On Your Side:
That means everything except for those 20 minutes around the derailment was recorded over. And thus, investigators cannot check video from the inward-facing camera to see what the three-person train crew was doing earlier in the trip.
“It’s just as important to see what was going on before that,” Homendy said. “The train was going in the 35-40 mph range earlier and then between 40-50. So we don’t even have what was occurring around the first and second wayside (defect) detectors, much less before that, all of which is key to investigations.”
The detectors, placed at intervals several miles apart along the tracks, are designed to pick up problems such as the overheated bearing blamed for causing the wreck.
The preliminary NTSB report said the crew was not at fault.
Six on Your Side reached out to Homendy after the missing recording came up briefly Wednesday during a three-and-a-half hearing on the Feb. 3 wreck in eastern Ohio that is still drawing national attention.
The transportation board leader said her agency plans to hold an investigative field hearing in East Palestine in June.
“The hearing will be wholly fact-finding in nature and open to the public,” she said.
Before the hearing, the NTSB will hold a town hall to receive public comments.
Unlike flight recorders on airplanes or even videos on Amtrak or commuter rail lines, no requirement exists to preserve recordings on freight trains – even ones that derail and cause untold damage.
According to a February NTSB press release, investigators think the derailment was caused by a wheel bearing failure.
NTSB investigators have identified and examined the rail car that initiated the derailment. Surveillance video from a residence showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment. The wheelset from the suspected railcar has been collected as evidence for metallurgical examination. The suspected overheated wheel bearing has been collected and will be examined by engineers from the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
Read the preliminary report published in February:
Daily Caller noted:
“The NTSB’s investigation is ongoing and NTSB investigators are continuing to review evidence and data as it pertains to the train derailment in East Palestine,” Keith Holloway, an NTSB spokesperson, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Government officials and Norfolk Southern are still conducting cleanup efforts in the eastern Ohio town after a controlled burn on the cars, which was conducted on Feb. 6, released toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride into the environment. Residents have since been concerned about the air and water quality, both of which the EPA maintains are of normal levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed in a press release, obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation, Thursday night that soil sampling preliminary results “indicates levels of semi-volatile organic chemicals and dioxins in the samples are similar to typical background levels.”
To date, 8,442 tons of contaminated soil and 7.8 million gallons of “liquid wastewater” has been shipped, according to the EPA. It has conducted 621 indoor air screenings.
A recent analysis of East Palestine soil samples showed dioxin levels “hundreds of times greater than the exposure threshold,” to pose cancer risks.
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