New details were released on Thursday in a report about what happened with the fiery train derailment that took place in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3 and claimed the derailment was “100% preventable.”
Federal investigators said there were no signs that crew members did anything wrong, but Jennifer Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, did say it was “100% preventable.”
According to CNN, Homendy said, “We call things accidents — there is no accident. Every single event that we investigate is preventable.”
Some ways to prevent future derailments include regulation changes, safety recommendations, updates to security alerts and more intensely scrutinized inspections before a train leaves a station, according to the report. But in this case, the report says crews followed the current regulations in place.
What caused the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio?
The engineer received an alarm that notified him about an overheated axle, and began slowing and stopping the train. Soon, crew members started to see fire and smoke. The axle had increased by 215 degrees over 30 miles but had not reached “the temperature threshold that railroad company Norfolk Southern had set for an alarm to go off until just before the wreck,” The Associated Press reported.
Outside experts also reported that “the system appeared to work as designed,” but advised looking into possibly updating the systems and procedures to prevent something similar from happening in the future, per AP.
The overheating likely caused the cars to derail, 11 of which contained hazardous materials, but a complete timeline of how and what caused the accident has not been discussed yet.
43,000 fish killed after Ohio derailment
Following the derailment, officials evacuated the city and slowly released and burned the toxic chemicals that were contained in some of the cars. Initial testing reported no harmful levels of toxins remained following the burn, but multiple residents reported experiencing rashes, nausea and headaches after returning from evacuation.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that the derailment could have “potentially killed more than 43,000 fish, amphibians, crustaceans and other aquatic animals in nearby streams,” according to The Washington Post.
There’s no initial evidence of the derailment and chemical release impacting land animals. However, residents have reported new sicknesses and odd behavior in farm animals since the accident.
“Obviously, something that catastrophic to that extent has to be doing more to the environment and everything than what they’re saying,” East Palestine resident Jacqueline Schmeltz told the Post.
Trump, Buttigieg visit East Palestine
Former President Donald Trump visited the small Ohio city on Wednesday on his campaign trail and claimed the Biden administration demonstrated “indifference and betrayal” to the city, per The Hill.
Other Republican leaders have also called out President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for their response to the incident.
On Feb. 18, Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said Buttigieg receives an “F” for the way he responded to the crash and told Fox News, “I mean, he hasn’t shown up.”
Buttigieg did end up visiting the city on Thursday and aligned with the release of the NTSB report detailing what happened in the accident.
During the visit, Buttigieg defended why he came two weeks after the crash occurred, saying he wanted to “go when it is appropriate and wouldn’t detract from the emergency response efforts,” per The Hill.
Homendy decried efforts to make the incident and the response to the incident into a political circus.
“Enough with the politics. I don’t understand why this has gotten so political,” Homendy said at a briefing in Washington, D.C., per AP. “This is a community that is suffering. This is not about politics. This is about addressing their needs, their concerns.”