Report: East Palestine Derailed Train Broke Down Before; Workers Expressed Concern

Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 4, 2023. - Th
DUSTIN FRANZ/AFP via Getty Images

The train that derailed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania line this month — which was carrying toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride — had broken down before on its route as workers expressed concerns about the load size, according to reports.

The train derailed in East Palestine on February 3 but reportedly broke down “at least once” on this route prior to the fiery derailment, according to CBS News.

WATCH: Massive Inferno, Threat of “Catastrophic” Explosion After 50-Car Train Derailment:

Eric Whiting/LOCAL NEWS X /TMX

The outlet cites employees who said train workers were concerned about “what they believed was the train’s excessive length and weight — 151 cars, 9,300 feet long, 18,000 tons — before it reached East Palestine, which contributed to both the initial breakdown and the derailment,” per the report.

One employee said there should be “some limitations to the weight and the length of the trains.”

“We shouldn’t be running trains that are 150 car lengths long … In this case, had the train not been 18,000 tons, it’s very likely the effects of the derailment would have been mitigated,” the employee said.

However,  a company spokesperson for Norfolk Southern maintains that “the weight distribution of this train was uniform throughout.”

“Assigning a ‘reputation’ to a train that fluctuates by thousands of tons on a regular basis is inaccurate,” the spokesperson added.

The train derailment ultimately prompted a “controlled release” of the chemicals, as residents were forced to evacuate the area.

“The vinyl chloride contents of five rail cars are currently unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement on February 6.

“To alleviate the risk of uncontrollable shrapnel from an explosion, Norfolk Southern Railroad is planning a controlled release of the vinyl chloride at approximately 3:30 p.m. today,” he added:

According to Norfolk Southern Railroad, the controlled release process involves the burning of the rail cars’ chemicals, which will release fumes into the air that can be deadly if inhaled. Based on current weather patterns and the expected flow of the smoke and fumes, anyone who remains in the red affected area is facing grave danger of death. Anyone who remains in the yellow impacted area is at a high risk of severe injury, including skin burns and serious lung damage.

WATCH: “Controlled Release” of Toxic Chemicals After East Palestine Train Derailment:

Mohawk Valey Joint Fire District via Storful

Since then, residents have been given the all-clear to return to their homes, with DeWine and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announcing that air quality samples were “at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has screened 291 homes, with no detections identified:


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