By J.D. DAVIDSON
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – An overheated wheel bearing caused a Norfolk Southern train to crash on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday afternoon.
The derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania line was largely out of the spotlight for nearly two weeks. A controlled burn Feb. 6, and social media buzz last week sparked more interest with previously silent politicians weighing in heavily.
There were no injuries from the crash, and testing of air and water have had positive results for residents in the area.
The crew on the train gets signals for temperatures of the wheel bearings as it moves. NTSB Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy said two heat indicators showed wheel bearing temperatures rising but not above warning levels. A third was significantly over the threshold.
The probe could take up to 18 months to be finalized.
“NTSB still is in fact-finding phase. We know what derailed the train. We have a lot of questions. We dig deep. That takes time,” Ms. Homendy said.
Once the fact-finding phase of the investigation is complete, NTSB moves into an analysis and then issues any potential safety recommendations, but Ms. Homendy said urgent safety recommendations could be issued if needed.
Ms. Homendy also said the accident was 100% preventable.
“We’ve never seen an accident that wasn’t preventable. I hate the word accident. Nothing is an accident,” she said.