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  1. #101
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Bipartisan rail safety bill runs into Republican roadblock

    A bipartisan push to bolster railroad safety is turning into a slog as top Senate Republicans indicate they are not yet on board with the main legislative response to the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.

    Ohio Sens. J.D. Vance (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) unveiled a rail safety proposal last week that has already won over the White House and top Democrats. But winning support from Republicans is proving to be harder as some question if it is too soon to move on a bill that could have unintended consequences.

    “We’ll take a look at what’s being proposed, but an immediate quick response heavy on regulation needs to be thoughtful and targeted,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill.

    “Let’s define the problem. Let’s figure out what the solutions are and if there are things we need to fix, we’ll fix them,” Thune continued.

    Vance and Brown’s Railway Safety Act would boost safety requirements for trains carrying hazardous materials, call for more frequent inspections of rail cars, increase fines for safety violations and greenlight $27 million to examine possible other safety improvements.

    The bill would also require more frequent use of sensors that detect overheated wheel bearings. The East Palestine train’s sensors failed to detect the problem in time, causing the derailment, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report.

    However, the proposal leaves the specifics of the new rules to the Department of Transportation, causing some concern among Republicans.

    Thune added that he was “uncomfortable” giving “much more power” to the department and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has been the subject of intense criticism from Republicans.

    Vance told The Hill in a brief interview that while he has been encouraged by the initial reaction to the bill, he acknowledges there are a number of mountains to climb before it can get across the finish line. Among those: the absence of the final report by the NTSB and opposition from the powerful railway lobby.

    “But I actually think there’s something to be done here,” he said.

    Railroad industry could derail new rules

    The railroad industry is gearing up to oppose stricter federal rules, arguing that the industry should be able to regulate itself. Railroads have long opposed government regulations, arguing that they’re too costly and burdensome, and frequently recruit Republican lawmakers to weaken or delay them.

    Norfolk Southern, the company whose train derailed in East Palestine, was among several major rail operators to help defeat federal and state measures meant to boost rail safety.
    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

  2. #102
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    A start..........

    Norfolk Southern announces six-point safety plan

    Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) announced Monday a six-point plan to immediately enhance the safety of its operations. The initiatives are based on the preliminary findings of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following the East Palestine, Ohio, derailment.

    "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."

    Norfolk Southern will immediately begin the following initiatives:


    • Enhance the hot bearing detector network. Norfolk Southern is evaluating the distance between hot bearing detectors, which currently averages 13.9 miles on its core network. The company will examine every location on its core network where the distance is more than 15 miles and develop a plan to deploy additional detectors where practical due to terrain and operating conditions. The company anticipates adding approximately 200 hot bearing detectors to its network, with the first installed on the western approach to East Palestine.
    • Pilot next-generation hot bearing detectors. Norfolk Southern is working with manufacturers to accelerate the testing and deployment of safety technology on its network that can scan a greater cross-section of a railcar's bearings and wheels. These so-called "multi-scan" hot bearing detectors may offer the potential to catch overheated bearings more effectively.
    • Work with industry on practices for hot bearing detectors. Norfolk Southern intends to work with the industry on a comprehensive review of standards and practices for the use of hot bearing detectors. In addition to reevaluating the temperature threshold at which an alarm is triggered, the company plans to work with peers to analyze data for patterns that could provide earlier warnings of potential safety issues. Norfolk Southern also plans to partner with other railroads to review best practices, including response to high-temperature alarms.
    • Deploy more acoustic bearing detectors. In addition to enhancing its use of hot bearing detectors, Norfolk Southern will immediately accelerate the deployment of acoustic bearing detectors, which play a different role in its safety inspection program. These detectors analyze the acoustic signature of vibration inside the axle and can identify potential problems that a visual inspection could not. Norfolk Southern will add 13 new detectors to the five already in service, stationing these devices on high-traffic routes around our core network. This will strengthen the early-warning system that identifies potential risks before they become issues.
    • Accelerate our Digital Train Inspection program. Norfolk Southern is partnering with Georgia Tech Research Institute to develop a next generation of its most advanced safety inspection technology, which uses machine vision and algorithms powered by artificial intelligence to identify defects and needed repairs much more effectively than traditional human inspection. Ultra-high-resolution cameras stationed in strategic locations around its network will give Norfolk Southern a 360-degree health check on railcars, improving its ability to detect, diagnose, and repair defects before they become issues. The company is accelerating the installation of the next phase of this new technology on its Premier Corridor, which connects the Midwest and Northeast and is the line that runs through East Palestine.
    • Support a strong safety culture. Norfolk Southern has agreed to join the Federal Railroad Administration's Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). By joining the program, Norfolk Southern is building upon its own long-standing Close Call Experience Program, which encourages railroaders to speak up if they see something that is unsafe.


    These enhanced safety measures follow the Feb. 23 release of the NTSB's preliminary report, which traced the derailment and the initial fire to an overheated axle on car number 23, which was carrying plastic pellets. Subsequent NTSB testing indicated that the aluminum covers over the pressure relief valves on three of the five tank cars carrying vinyl chloride melted. The NTSB found that Norfolk Southern's rail crew operated the train within the company's rules and operated the train below the track speed limit. Additionally, the NTSB reported that wayside hot bearing detectors were operating as designed.

  3. #103
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    NTSB opens investigation into Norfolk Southern safety practices after train derailments

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is launching an investigation into Norfolk Southern’s safety practices as the company faces increasing scrutiny following a string of train derailments, including a high-profile derailment in Ohio last month, the agency announced Tuesday.

    The NTSB said in a release it is launching a “special investigation” into the company, citing the “number and significance” of recent incidents involving Norfolk Southern.

    “The NTSB is concerned that several organizational factors may be involved in the accidents, including safety culture. The NTSB will conduct an in-depth investigation into the safety practices and culture of the company,” it said in a statement. “At the same time, the company should not wait to improve safety and the NTSB urges it to do so immediately.”

    Norfolk Southern has come under intense fire after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, sparking environmental and public health concerns. A second train derailed in the state last week, but the cars were empty and no injuries were reported.

    The NTSB said it has sent investigators to the sites of five “significant accidents” involving Norfolk Southern since 2021, including the death of an employee in an accident Tuesday.

    Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a statement the cause of Tuesday’s accident wasn’t known but “we will of course cooperate fully with the National Transportation Safety Board.”

    “I called together every member of our management team this afternoon to emphasize the urgency of finding new solutions. Tomorrow we will hold safety stand-down briefings reaching every employee across our network,” Shaw said. “Moving forward, we are going to rebuild our safety culture from the ground up. We are going to invest more in safety. This is not who we are, it is not acceptable, and it will not continue.”

    The Norfolk Southern derailments have also placed federal rail regulations in sharp focus.

    The federal investigation comes as lawmakers are pursuing legislation that would increase rail regulations and enhance safety measures. The bipartisan proposal, however, has run into Republican opposition in the Senate, because it leaves specifics up to the Transportation Department.

  4. #104
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    Senate Environment Committee to hold hearing on East Palestine train derailment effects

    The Senate Energy and Public Works Committee plans to hold a hearing on the environmental and public health impacts on the local community following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio earlier this month.

    Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the chairman of the committee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking member, said in a statement that they will focus on the local, state and federal response in the immediate aftermath of the derailment and the efforts to clean up the toxic chemicals that were slowly released into the environment.

    “We believe this is an important step to ensure that response prioritizes the health and safety of those impacted by this terrible accident,” they said.

    The statement did not provide information on when the hearing would be scheduled, but noted that it would be held soon.

    The announcement comes as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to send toxicologists to the site near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania on Saturday to conduct tests to determine the safety of the residents, and whether they can to return to their homes.

    Officials have said the air and water are safe after the Norfolk Southern train derailment that allowed hazardous materials to become exposed to the air on Feb. 3. Their analyses are based on tests they have conducted in the weeks following the crash.

    But some residents have reported strong odors of chemicals in the area and symptoms of illness potentially resulting from the chemicals.

    One of the most dangerous chemicals on board the train was vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing material that is used to create plastics — and is also explosive. Officials burned the substance and conducted a “controlled release” of the chemicals into the air to avoid a potential explosion.

    Residents have called for Norfolk Southern to be held accountable for its role in the crisis. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has said the company should pay for the effects of the derailment, including medical screenings for residents potentially impacted.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Friday that it would send federal assistance to the train derailment site.

    DeWine initially said the agency determined that the area was not eligible for disaster support because it usually steps in when significant home and property damage happens from a natural disaster like a hurricane.

  5. #105
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    In a bipartisan fashion, senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing Thursday calling for answers from railroad executives and federal emergency response officials as they seek justice for residents of East Palestine, Ohio.

    Senators call for more regulations

    The hearing's first witness, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., noted that residents of Beaver County in Pennsylvania not far from the accident site are "scared, particularly the potential exposure that could lead to health impacts to themselves and their families for years," Casey said. He advocated for an effort he's leading with Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and J.D. Vance, a Republican, that would increase penalties on railroad companies and increase safety requirements.

    "It's bipartisan that never happens around here on big bills," Casey said. "It would be a good start by Norfolk Southern to tell us today that they support the bill."

    Brown, who has visited East Palestine, called on witness Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw to make a financial commitment to cover the clean up, environmental testing and healthcare costs "however long it takes to make this community whole."

    Brown noted that a second train derailed in Springfield, Ohio.

    "The only thing that saved Ohioans from disaster was luck, but we need more than that," Brown said.

    Vance, also testifying before Senate colleagues, echoed similar concerns.

    "I am a realist. I recognize that you are always going to have accidents but I think that we can make them less likely," Vance said. "I am a Republican, a pretty conservative Republican, and I worry that there has been a movement in my party and against the legislation I have proposed."

    He added he believed railroad deregulation was good for consumers but "that doesn't mean we cannot have reasonable safety enhancements in response to what happened in East Palestine."

    Testimony from Norfolk Southern

    "I am determined to make this right," Shaw said in his opening testimony, adding that Norfolk Southern will clean the site. He argued the water and air are safe.

    Much more in the article

    related




    Another Norfolk Southern train derailed in Alabama on Thursday morning, the company confirmed in a statement to Axios.

    Driving the news: This is the third such incident since early February. A derailment of a two-mile long freight train in East Palestine, Ohio that was carrying hazardous chemicals has put a spotlight on the company and left residents of East Palestine concerned about the safety of their air and water.


    • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) interrupted testimony from Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw before a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to tell Shaw of the derailment.
    • I certainly hope that all of your team and the anybody in the vicinity is safe and well," Whitehouse said. "You may need to look into that.


    Norfolk Southern said in a statement that there were no injuries and "no reports of a hazardous materials release."


    • The second derailment, which took place on Saturday, did not involve hazardous chemicals and did not result in any injuries.

  6. #106
    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    AG Dave Yost Sues Norfolk Southern Over ‘Entirely Avoidable’ Train Derailment

    (COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a 58-count civil lawsuit in federal court today seeking to hold Norfolk Southern financially responsible for the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine that caused the release of over 1 million gallons of hazardous chemicals, “recklessly endangering” both the health of area residents and Ohio’s natural resources.

    “Ohio shouldn’t have to bear the tremendous financial burden of Norfolk Southern’s glaring negligence,” AG Yost said. “The fallout from this highly preventable incident may continue for years to come, and there’s still so much we don’t know about the long-term effects on our air, water and soil.”

    The company has repeatedly said that it will make the situation right, Yost noted, adding: “This lawsuit will make sure that Norfolk Southern keeps its word.”

    The suit, filed in U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio, cites the company’s escalating accident rate, which has risen 80% in the past 10 years. At least 20 Norfolk Southern derailments since 2015 have involved chemical discharges.

    “The derailment was entirely avoidable and the direct result of Norfolk Southern’s practice of putting its own profits above the health, safety and welfare of the communities in which Norfolk Southern operates,” the lawsuit says.

    Norfolk Southern is cited for numerous violations – 58 in all – of various federal and state environmental laws and Ohio Common Law. Generally speaking, the allegations of Norfolk Southern’s wrongdoing fall under:


    • The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)
    • Ohio’s Hazardous Waste Law
    • Ohio’s Water Pollution Control Law
    • Ohio’s Solid Waste Law
    • Ohio’s Air Pollution Control Law
    • Common Law Negligence
    • Common Law Public Nuisance
    • Common Law Trespass


    The Common Law violations include negligence counts relating to defects in the train and the train’s operation. The nuisance counts encompass the chemical releases into the air, public waterways and public land, and the trespass counts address the contamination of natural resources.
    Overall, the lawsuit says, the violations resulted in an untold volume of hazardous pollutants being released into the air, water and ground, posing substantial, long-term threats to human health and the environment.

    The complaint says releases from at least 39 rail cars have made their way into Sulfur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, the Ohio River and/or some still-unknown Ohio waterways.

    Likewise, the derailment “has caused substantial damage to the regional economy of the state of Ohio, its citizens and its businesses. The citizens of the region have been displaced, their lives interrupted and their businesses shuttered.”

    Ohio is entitled to recover the lost taxes and other economic losses it has suffered, the lawsuit maintains. Yost seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties, costs, damages and court costs, including:


    • A declaratory judgment holding Norfolk Southern responsible.
    • Recovery of costs and damages under the CERCLA and Ohio law for emergency response.
    • Repayment of damages under common law – notably, natural resource damages, property damages, and economic harm to the state and its residents.
    • Repayment of costs under common law, including present and future costs incurred by the state in responding to the emergency, providing public services, preventing future harm to the environment and public health, restoring natural resources, and abating the nuisance.
    • Civil penalties under state environmental laws.
    • Repayment of court costs.


    As a formality, the complaint names a jurisdictional minimum for federal damages of $75,000, although the damages will far exceed that minimum as the situation in East Palestine continues to unfold.

    Additionally, Yost asks the court to require Norfolk Southern to conduct future monitoring of soil and groundwater at the derailment location, the surrounding areas and beyond – and to submit a closure plan to the Ohio EPA.

    The lawsuit would also prohibit Norfolk Southern from disposing of additional waste at the derailment site and from polluting Ohio waters.

    https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/...%80%98Entirely

  7. #107
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    Pennsylvania school district files lawsuit against Norfolk Southern over East Palestine train crash

    A Pennsylvania school district is suing Norfolk Southern over the impacts of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment that led to the release of toxic chemicals and forced thousands to evacuate for days.

    The lawsuit from Blackhawk School District in Beaver County, located on Pennsylvania’s western border with Ohio, is the latest of several facing Norfolk Southern, which operated the train that derailed. East Palestine residents filed a class action suit last month and the Ohio state government filed a suit earlier this month against the train company.

    The complaint from the school district alleges that the fires that resulted from the crash and the “plumes” of dangerous chemicals that came from a controlled release of the materials contaminated the school district’s lands and buildings, which were occupied by its students and staff members.

    The school district is located within a 15-mile radius of where the derailment occurred, according to the lawsuit.

    More than 10 of the cars on the train were carrying toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, a highly explosive, cancer-causing substance used to make plastic products. Officials decided to intentionally release vinyl chloride gas in a controlled manner to prevent a potential explosion that would have been more dangerous to the area.

    But the district argues that the decision to release the materials did not take the surrounding area into consideration and put those nearby at risk.

    “The release of the toxic, hazardous, and dangerous chemicals was without regard to Blackhawk School District, its students and staff,” the complaint states. “Instead, the toxic fires and deadly plumes dumped a lethal cocktail on Plaintiff’s buildings, property, soil, and water supplies where deposits of the toxic materials have been found.”

    The district said the release forced its students and staff to need to evacuate their homes for a substantial amount of time, caused them to suffer medical problems like rashes and respiratory issues, increased the risk of future disease for students and staff and led to a need for future monitoring of the property, soil and water for the school.

    The district is suing the train company for a variety of charges including negligence, public nuisance, future health monitoring and trespass. The district requested a jury trial for the case.

    Norfolk Southern has received widespread criticism in the aftermath of the derailment. The rail industry as a whole has also been scrutinized over its push for loosening safety regulations that some say could have played a role in preventing the derailment.

  8. #108
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    U.S. sues Norfolk Southern for environmental damage from derailment

    The federal government filed a lawsuit against railroad Norfolk Southern over environmental damage caused by a train derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border that spilled hazardous chemicals into nearby creeks and rivers.

    The U.S. Department of Justice said it’s seeking to hold the company accountable for “unlawfully polluting the nation’s waterways and to ensure it pays the full cost of the environmental cleanup,” in the lawsuit filed Thursday.

    The derailment in early February led to the evacuation of half of the 5,000 residents of East Palestine when responders intentionally burned toxic chemicals in some of the derailed cars to prevent an uncontrolled explosion.

    Chemicals from the derailed cars and firefighting foam seeped into creeks and rivers near the village, with some eventually ending up in the Ohio River.

    Government officials say tests haven’t found dangerous levels of chemicals in the air or water in the area, but many residents remain concerned their long-term health.

    Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw has repeatedly apologized for the impact the derailment and the company has pledged to pay for the cleanup. The railroad has promised more than $20 million to help the Ohio community recover while also announcing several voluntary safety upgrades.

    Ohio filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern just over two week ago to make sure it pays for the cleanup and environmental damage and pay for groundwater and soil monitoring in the years ahead.

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