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US investigators to release preliminary report into East Palestine train derailment


(WASHINGTON) — Federal investigators are set to release a preliminary report into the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy and Director of the NTSB’s Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Robert J. Hall will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to share their initial findings into the incident.

The agency released an investigative update last week saying that through surveillance video it identified and examined a rail car with “what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.”

Thirty-eight rail cars derailed in the incident, NTSB said. Eleven of those cars contained hazardous materials, five of which contained vinyl chloride, a highly volatile colorless gas produced for commercial uses.

The preliminary report will not offer a cause of the derailment but will document factual evidence during the on-scene portion of the investigation.

The release of the report also coincides with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s first visit to the derailment site.

Buttigieg — who will visit East Palestine Thursday — has faced criticism from Republicans for not traveling to the site sooner. The secretary defended his decision, saying on Twitter he “followed the norm of staying out of the way of the independent NTSB.”

Buttigieg will be joined on the trip by Amit Bose, the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, and Tristan Brown, the deputy administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

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