This photo from February 24, 2023 shows the site of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. (AP Photo/Matt Freed, File)

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Federal investigators have launched a full investigation into one of America’s largest railroads following a derailment at the Ohio-Pennsylvania border last month and several other incidents involving Norfolk Southern, including the death of a stagehand on Tuesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced on Tuesday that it would launch a comprehensive review of the company’s safety culture, the first such investigation in the rail industry since 2014. The board added that it has sent teams of investigators to look into five significant crashes involving South Norfolk since December 2021.

The agency also called on the company to take immediate steps to review and assess its security practices.

Alan Shaw, the CEO of Norfolk Southern, promised to hold a series of company-wide safety meetings on Wednesday, the day before he testifies before Congress at a hearing on the East Palestine derailment. , Ohio.

“From now on, we will rebuild our safety culture from the ground up,” he said in a statement. “We are going to invest more in security. It’s not who we are, it’s not acceptable and it’s not going to continue.”

In response to the derailment in Ohio, the company on Monday announced plans to improve the use of detectors placed on railroad tracks to detect overheated bearings, among other issues.

NTSB investigators said the crew operating the train that derailed on February 3 outside eastern Palestine received an alert from one of these detectors, but were unable to detect stop the tracks before more than 30 cars come off the tracks and catch fire.

Half of the town’s roughly 5,000 residents had to evacuate their homes for days when rescuers intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the cars to prevent a wildfire explosion, leaving residents worried about their health. Government officials said tests found no dangerous levels of chemicals in the area’s air or water.

Within the rail industry, Norfolk Southern has a long-standing reputation for safety, according to Christopher Barkan, director of the Center for Rail Transportation and Engineering at the University of Illinois.

In the most recent incident on Tuesday, a train and a freight truck collided at a Cleveland steel mill, killing the engineer, who was standing outside a train car, authorities said. The company said the cause of this accident is still unknown.


Seewer reported from Toledo, Ohio.

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