Norfolk Southern hit with record train crashes in Ohio

Ethan Hunting, Online Copy Editor

Within the span of just over a month, railroad company Norfolk Southern has had three train accidents in the state of Ohio.     

On February 3, railroad company Norfolk Southern broke headlines when one of its trains derailed near East Palestine, Ohio. In just over a month, the incident has already repeated itself twice, first on March 4 in Springfield, and then again on March 7 in Cleveland.

While the two accidents that occurred in March have certainly caused their own slew of problems, there were thankfully no hazardous materials on either of the trains. This contrasts with the derailment in East Palestine back in February, which has now gained infamy for the damages and harm it’s caused to locals. 

Among the complaints, residents cited “drowsiness, lethargy, headaches, and nausea,” as well as “eye and skin irritation.” 

These complaints followed the controlled burn of the derailment to avoid an explosion. The burn contained vinyl chloride, a colorless gas known for creating an increased risk of brain, liver, and lung cancers, along with blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma as noted by the National Cancer Institute.

Amid all of the chaos of the environmental ramifications of East Palestine and the rush to handle the more recent accidents in Springfield and Cleveland, officials have been trying to figure out what’s been causing the accidents in the first place. 

The accidents on February 3 and March 4 were both complete derailments and don’t seem to be connected to any other vehicles. While less is currently known about the crash on March 7, it appears that this was caused by the train colliding with a dump truck crossing the tracks. Whether or not this was the fault of any sensors or the driver of the truck remains unknown. 

In a statement provided by WKYC 3, Norfolk Southern stated that they were “working with the Cleveland Police Department and Cleveland-Cliffs representatives to confirm the details and learn everything possible about the incident.”

The derailments are a different situation. Many are blaming it on the deregulation of safety precautions in the industry. The deregulation has reportedly caused many safety measures to be cut or modified. This included heat sensors. Officials seem to agree it was the failure of the heat sensors that caused the accident. 

A report from the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the cause for the derailment on February 3 was an overheated wheel bearing (WSJ). This type of problem is typically handled before a derailment occurs, however, recent reports show that the standard sensors being used by Norfolk Southern are unreliable, and have “a mixed record of preventing accidents.”

Whether or not regulation on the railroad industry in Ohio will increase in the near future remains uncertain.