The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced May 24 that it will hold a two-day investigative hearing in East Palestine, Ohio, on June 22-23, as part of the ongoing investigation into the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern (NS) train and subsequent material release and fires.
According to NTSB, the investigative hearing, which will be held at East Palestine High School beginning at 9 a.m. Eastern time both days, will focus on the following topics:
- Hazard communications and emergency preparedness for the initial emergency response.
- The circumstances that led to the decision to vent and burn five rail tank cars carrying vinyl chloride.
- Freight car bearing failure modes and wayside detection systems.
- Tank car derailment damage, crashworthiness and hazardous materials package information.
According to the Board, NTSB investigative hearings gather sworn testimony from witnesses on issues the agency identifies during the investigation. While the investigative hearing is open to the public, only NTSB board members, investigators, scheduled witnesses and parties to the hearing are allowed to participate. The public is invited to observe the hearing.
“The communities most affected by this tragedy deserve as much insight as possible into our investigation, which is why we’re holding an investigative hearing in East Palestine,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “While we unfortunately cannot change what happened that day, our entire agency is committed to carrying out our mission, which doesn’t end when we get to the bottom of what happened and why it happened—we’ll also work vigorously to prevent it from ever happening again.”
Additional details are available at NTSB’s East Palestine investigation hearing page.
Additionally, in advance of the investigative hearing, NTSB will be hosting a community meeting on June 21 for residents of East Palestine and surrounding areas, including neighboring communities in Pennsylvania, at East Palestine High School at 6 p.m. Eastern time.
The meeting, NTSB says, will provide an opportunity for residents to ask NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy questions about the Board and its investigative process.