NTSB chairwoman visits Darlington Township nearly 2 months after East Palestine train derailment

DARLINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — In her first visit to East Palestine and Darlington Township, Beaver County, Channel 11 talked exclusively with the Chairwoman of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy. 

She shared where the investigation stands into the toxic train derailment in early February and some early findings that begin to paint a picture of what went wrong. She said while Norfolk Southern is cooperative, a key piece of evidence is missing.

“We do have an issue with the recorders,” Homendy tells Channel 11. “We didn’t get a full recording that we asked for in site in the early hours of February 5, so we’re still looking for that footage. It’s been overwritten.”

She also talked to us about the anomalies with the pressure release devices in the rail cars carrying the highly toxic chemical vinyl chloride. Some testing is now being done in the NTSB’s lab.

“We found some issues with three out of the five where the stem was stuck, so opening and closing,” Homendy added. “We did find in the early morning hours of February 5, that it was noticed by Norfolk Southern and others that the pressure relief devices stopped working.  We’re looking at how that occurred, when that occurred, why that occurred.”

The chairwoman of the NTSB also wants folks across the state line in PA to know they are not forgotten about. She stopped in Darlington Township to talk to leaders including Beaver County Commissioners.

“We know just from our experience in investigations, how impacted surrounding communities can be from such devastation,” Homendy tells Channel 11. “The NTSB never forgets that impact.”

Dan Camp, the chairman of the Beaver County Commissioners says it’s a welcome visit and it means something to the folks of Beaver County and Lawrence County to have eyes on the aftermath.

“The derailment happened 800 feet from our line,” Camp tells Channel 11. “It affected our residents just as much as it affected East Palestine.  It’s important that we stress to Norfolk Southern that we need to be treated the same way as Ohio.”

Camp says especially with the agriculture community in Darlington Township, there needs to be more transparency from the government about testing and from Norfolk Southern about the decision to do a controlled burn.

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