Norfolk Southern derailment second in Clark County in less than a year

Saturday’s train derailment near Prime Ohio II Industrial Park and the Clark County Fairgrounds was the second Norfolk Southern derailment reported in Clark County in the span of less than one year.

On Saturday, nearly 20 of 212 cars on a Norfolk Southern train derailed, including four tankers carrying non-hazardous materials, per the train company. Two had residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid, and the other two had residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution.

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.

Like Saturday’s derailment, Norfolk Southern and local emergency personnel reported no injuries. A Norfolk Southern spokesperson in May confirmed no “HAZMAT situation” was created in the 2022 derailment.

People living near the tracks in May reported hearing a series of booms that evening, as well as seeing cars in the nearby river and seeing the train at a full stop.

“I felt my entire house shake,” said Pamela Diehl, who has lived near the tracks for 10 years.

Diehl then said she could hear the sound of cars hitting one another, but not in the way she has heard them jostle as they make their way down the tracks.

A local HAZMAT team inspected the area twice following the derailment, and the Ohio EPA was on site Sunday to inspect the area and confirm no material was released, according to the Clark County Combined Health District.

“No hazardous material was spilled, and there is no threat to the public at this time,” the health district shared in a social media post.

State Route 41 remains closed between Interstate 70 and Gateway Boulevard in Springfield due to a train derailment in that area. Traffic can still access the industrial park from the north, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“This route will remain closed until the railroad has completed emergency repairs at the crossing,” the state transportation department said.

The official detours are the following:

  • Northbound: I-70 west to S.R. 72 north to S.R. 41 north
  • Southbound: S.R. 72 south to I-70 east to S.R. 41 south

Nearly 50 Ohio Edison customers in Springfield and Springfield Twp. were without power Sunday morning.

A motorcycle event at the Clark County Fairgrounds moved outdoors due to lack of power, according to fairground officials.

EARLIER: Local and state first responders confirmed no hazardous materials were found at a train derailment site near the Clark County Fairgrounds, according to a statement released early Sunday morning.

About 20 of the 212 cars on the Norfolk Southern train derailed, including four tankers identified with non-hazardous materials: two with residual amounts of diesel exhaust fluid, and two with residual amounts of polyacrylamide water solution.

Springfield Twp. Fire Department officials responded first and deployed the Clark County Hazmat team to identify the scope of the incident.

A county statement issued early Sunday read: “There is no indication of any injuries or risk to public health at this time. A crew from the owner/operator of the railway Norfolk Southern, the Clark County Hazmat team and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency each independently examined the crash site and verified there was no evidence of spillage at the site.”

The derailment occurred at 4:57 p.m. Saturday on State Route 41 near Gateway Boulevard, between Interstate 70 and Bird Road, according to Sgt. David Slanker of the Springfield Post of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Officials said the derailment is not in an area with a protected water source, “meaning there is no risk to public water systems or private wells at this time, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.”

The Ohio EPA will be in Springfield Twp. today to oversee cleanup of the site.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, State Route 41 remains closed in both directions beyond Titus Road to Cherry Point Mobile Home Park. The state transportation department advises using an alternate route.

A shelter-in-place order for residents who lived within 1,000 feet of the derailment was lifted. Ohio Edison crews worked to restore power for residents affected.

Diesel exhaust fluid and polyacrylamide Water Solution are common industrial products shipped via railroad, the county statement said. Norfolk Southern immediately provided a containment list, the statement said, and first responders had access to the list vial the ASKRAIL app.

In addition to Springfield Twp., the Springfield Fire Rescue Division, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Springfield Police Division, Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Public Safety, ODOT, Ohio Edison and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency all responded to the scene.

The Clark County EMA established an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response to the derailment on site, which is considered active.

A press conference is planned for later today to update the community.

EARLIER: Residents within 1,000 feet of Saturday’s train derailment near the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield are being asked to shelter in place “out of an abundance of caution,” per the Clark County Emergency Management Agency.

Residents who need to travel on Ohio 41 are also being asked to find alternate routes. Power outages are also being reported in the Springfield area due to downed power lines.

A train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed near Springfield Saturday afternoon sending between 20 and 30 cars off the tracks at Ohio 41 near the Prime Ohio Business Park, according to emergency officials at the scene.

The derailment occurred at 4:57 p.m. on State Route 41, between I-70 and Bird Road, according to Sgt. David Slanker of the Springfield Post of Ohio State Highway Patrol.

“We don’t know,” Slanker said, when asked whether the train has tanker cars. “There are a lot of cars that are derailed and we’re investigating right now to determine what they contain, and if any are leaking.”

In a statement, Norfolk Southern said the train was not carrying any hazardous materials and that no one was hurt.’

“Our teams are en route to the site to begin cleanup operations,” the statement said.

There is no estimate as to how long the route will be closed and motorists have been instructed to reroute.

There is also no notice of hazards to the community at the moment, Slanker said. Hazmat crews are on site.

The Springfield Post of Ohio State Highway Patrol, Springfield Township Fire Department, Springfield Police Division and other crews are on scene.

Shawn Heaton was waiting at the intersection as the train crossed the intersection and captured the start of the derailment on video.

“I was right there and I was playing on my phone and then I heard a loud bang. And when I heard the loud bang, I started recording,” Heaton said. “When I heard the bang, there was all kinds of debris and metal shoot out from under the cars and that’s when I started recording and you could see them start jumping off the tracks.”

This is the second derailment in Ohio by Norfolk Southern in recent months. A train owned by Norfolk Southern derailed on Feb. 3 in East Palestine. During the Feb. 3 accident, about 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash in East Palestine, according to rail operator Norfolk Southern and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Vinyl chloride was slowly released into the air at that time from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.

“Sandusky, Steubenville, East Palestine, and now Springfield - four Norfolk Southern derailments in less than five months because this corporation has been more concerned with its profit margin than with Ohioans’ safety. Ohio communities should not be forced to live in fear of another disaster. It’s unacceptable - it’s why we must pass my bipartisan Railway Safety Act with Senator Vance, now,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in a statement issued Saturday afternoon. Brown and Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, have introduced a bill to improve railroad safety.

Gov. Mike DeWine tweeted Saturday that he did not believe hazardous materials were on the train. “Late this afternoon an @nscorp train derailed in Clark County. We don’t believe hazardous materials were involved. @OhioEPA, @Ohio_EMA & OSHP are on scene supporting first responders. President Biden and (U.S. Transportation) Secretary Buttigieg called me to offer help from the federal government.’'

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