Norfolk Southern said ahead of the NTSB hearing that railroads will examine vent and burn decisions

June 21, 2024  -Days before the National Transportation Safety Board is set to explain why first responders were wrong to blow open five tank cars and burn the toxic chemical inside after the East Palestine derailment, Norfolk Southern said Friday it plans to lead an industrywide effort to improve the way those decisions are made.

The railroad said it promised to lead this effort to learn from the aftermath of its disastrous derailment as part of its settlement with the federal government. The NTSB will hold a hearing Tuesday to discuss what caused the Feb. 3, 2023 derailment and how to prevent similar derailments in the future.

More than three dozen railcars came off the tracks that night and piled up in a mangled mess of steel with 11 tank cars breaking open and spilling their hazardous cargo that then caught fire. Three days later, officials in charge of the response decided they had to vent and burn the five vinyl chloride tank cars to prevent one of them from exploding.

That action created massive fireballs above the train and sent a thick plume of black smoke over the town on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Half the town had to evacuate for days and residents are still worrying about the potential health effects from it.

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