Norfolk Southern train derailment disrupts Springfield businesses

One owner who closed says: ‘We weren’t real sure what was going on’

Some businesses in Clark County have been affected by the weekend’s nearby Norfolk Southern train derailment.

About 20 of 212 cars on a train derailed on Saturday afternoon on State Route 41 near Gateway Boulevard between Interstate 70 and Bird Road near the Clark County Fairgrounds and Prime Ohio Industrial Park. Four tankers were carrying non-hazardous materials, including two with residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid and the other two with residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution.

No injuries were reported and no hazardous material was released, according to Norfolk Southern, local emergency personnel and the Clark County Combined Health District.

Lane Martin, owner of Ability Builders, which is next to where the incident happened, said he closed Monday and will be closed Tuesday.

“It caused us to close the business for today (Monday) because there’s a lot of uncertainty yesterday (Sunday) and from Saturday. We weren’t real sure what was going on,” he said. “We’re going to close tomorrow (Tuesday) as well, we just got power on today, and there’s a lot of heavy equipment over there, so I’m going to give them a full extra day to get some of the stuff taken care of.”

Ability Builders assists adults who have developmental disabilities.

Martin said the derailment put “a little bit of fear” in him because he was getting calls from his friends saying a train derailed into his storage units, but soon realized it wasn’t his units and most of his things were safe.

“I’m ecstatic that none of the buildings were hurt. I’m very happy that we’re going to be able to go on with business, very happy we weren’t here working that day,” he said. “We’re also very happy that nothing hazardous was on that train.”

Pentaflex Inc. in the Prime Ohio Industrial Park was not affected by the incident, said president Ross McGregor. He said the business didn’t lose power and was not damaged, but is unsure if other businesses in the park were affected.

“Because of when it occurred, it didn’t impact us. If it happened during the work week, it could be a different story,” he said. “At least for us, when it happened, we didn’t have anyone working at the time. By the time employees reported back, the access to the park had been restored.”

McGregor said he is a little concerned about heavy freight traffic and trucks being able to get through since some access is closed, but he thinks officials have done a good job addressing issues and getting things cleaned up.

“The park is located adjected to I-70 for a reason, it’s one of the attractive features of Prime Ohio, the ability to get on and off the interstate easily for transportation of goods, so the sooner the roads open back to I-70, the better it is for us and the neighborhood, because of trucks traveling through the neighborhood,” he said.

The Clark County Fairgrounds was also affected by the incident, causing it to lose power and reschedule or cancel events, according to Executive Director Dean Blair.

A motorcycle swap meet event at the fairgrounds on Sunday was converted to an outdoor event. Blair said normally the event is about 90% inside and 10% outside, but that was “swapped” due to the power outage. He added they did also have to cancel a horse show.

He said the pace of cleanup work has impressed him since.

“I’m just amazed at how quick everything is happening... I’m in awe of the cooperation and transparency I’m seeing with all the agencies involved,” Blair said Monday.

The fairgrounds didn’t suffer any damage, Blair said, but that they own the property adjacent to the tracks that hasn’t been examined yet.

Blair added the county set up an emergency headquarters in the youth building, which will continue to be the command center all week.

The weekend’s train derailment is the second Norfolk Southern derailment reported in Clark County in less than one year.

In May 2022, about 26 of more than 100 cars of a Norfolk Southern train derailed about a quarter-mile from Old Mill Road in Mad River Twp.

Martin said with this being the second one, he feels there needs to be more guidance or changes.

“Train derailments like this, they’re not commonplace. I don’t remember them and for them to be commonplace so fast, there should be something they can point to and fix that has changed in the recent past,” he said.

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