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Cleanup underway in Clark County after Norfolk Southern derailment

Kathryn Mobley
Off Ohio 41, Gateway Blvd. is blocked off while crews remove mangled train cars and broke tracks.

Crews are busy cleaning up after a Norfolk Southern train derailment in in Springfield Township near State Route 41. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Workers driving huge, mud splattered yellow backhoes and front loaders navigate around massive overturned Norfolk Southern rail cars.

Almost 30 of the train’s 212 cars jumped the track about 4:45 p.m. Saturday at the railroad crossing on Gateway Boulevard near the Clark County Fairgrounds. The train was traveling from Bellevue, Ohio, to Birmingham, Alabama.

No one was injured, according to Clark County Emergency Management Agency.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says no hazardous materials spilled onto the ground nor escaped into the air. Ohio EPA Director Ann Vogel wants area residents to know her team is closely monitoring all activities.

“We will be on site ensuring that as cars are removed by Norfolk Southern that the soil is not impacted under the ground until the clean up is complete,” Vogel explained.

Local health and Norfolk Southern officials also emphasized that they found no hazardous contamination.

"We're looking at clean air, clean soil and clean water," Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said. "There have been multiple sweeps by multiple teams."

Two of the empty, damaged cars previously held diesel exhaust fluid. Another two had carried an industrial water solution. Vogel said none of the materials are hazardous.

On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio — sending chemicals into the air and forcing thousands of people to evacuate. Cleanup of that crash is still underway.

NTSB investigators are on site. Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern says its going to enact a new six-point safety plan.

Kraig Barner is the general manager of operations for Norfolk Southern. He said the company is committed to working with state and county hazmat teams.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority. We’ll take what we learn from the derailment and change what we need to,” Barner said. “I will say that derailments of this type for our company are actually on the decline.”

Meanwhile, state Rep. Bernie Willis, R-Springfield, said he’s personally concerned that Norfolk Southern trains have derailed four times in Ohio in recent months.

“I’m literary coming from a Norfolk Southern family. My dad worked there for a long time and my uncle is an engineer on this line. I knew a lot about the railway for most of my life,” Willis said. “It’s concerning to have a rash of multiple events happening at the same time.”

Willis also said Ohio legislators are working on bills to create requirements on train companies to further residential safety.

Crews are also digging up old tracks and laying down new ones. While detours around the crash site are in place, drivers have access to the Prime Ohio Corporate Park.

Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924