NS Says Controlled Release at Ohio Wreck ‘Successful’

On Friday night, an eastbound NS manifest freight with 150 cars derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, sparking a large fire and forcing evacuations of nearby homes. Photo by Joseph Zadeh.

NS Says Controlled Release at Ohio Wreck ‘Successful’

By Railfan & Railroad Staff

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Norfolk Southern officials said the controlled release of tank cars holding dangerous hazardous materials that were involved in last week’s wreck in eastern Ohio was “completed successfully” on Monday. However, the evacuations around the wreck remained in effect as of Tuesday morning and it was unclear when the residents of East Palestine, Ohio, would be able to return home. 

Monday’s controlled release required the digging of a ditch where the vinyl chloride inside the cars could pour into and be burned off. The railroad used small explosives to poke holes into the side of the cars. The fiery release resulted in a thick black smoke plume that looked like something from a disaster movie. 

On Friday night, an eastbound NS manifest freight with 150 cars derailed near East Palestine. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, at least 50 cars derailed and 10 of them were loaded with hazardous materials. Five of the derailed cars contained vinyl chloride, a dangerous gas used to make plastic products. The cars burned for days and late Sunday, due to changing conditions, officials became concerned that one or more of the cars might explode, possibly sending shrapnel more than a mile away from the wreck. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has taken the lead in the investigation. While it will take months to figure out what exactly happened, the initial belief is that there was a mechanical failure with one of the cars on the train. 

NS officials said it was unclear when regular train service would resume through the area. Amtrak’s Capitol Limited has also been canceled as a result of the wreck. 

This article was posted on: February 7, 2023