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The footage, which was first obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was taken by a security camera at an equipment plant in Salem, Ohio. East Palestine is around 20 miles away from Salem.
As the train passes the plant, what looks like flames and sparks can be seen in the video underneath the train cars.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the derailment, appeared to reference the video—and others—at a news conference in the days immediately after the incident took place on Feb. 3.
“We’re also looking at a lot of different footage that has been provided to the investigators out there to determine if there’s some data on footage that we have from videos and cameras that might tell us something more that what might have happened to cause this accident,” Michael Graham, a member of the NTSB, said in a Feb. 4 briefing.
At a follow-on briefing on Feb. 5, Graham said that investigators had also secured the locomotive data recorder earlier that day, along with forward- and inward-facing camera footage and audio recordings. Graham said the locomotive footage would be sent to a Washington lab for evaluation and analysis, before adding that other videos have emerged suggesting a possible problem with one of the rail car’s axles.
“We have obtained two videos which show preliminary indications of mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles,” Graham said at the Feb. 5 briefing, adding that the NTSB team was working to identify which rail car experienced the potential mechanical issue.
Graham said the train crew received an alarm from a “wayside defect detector shortly before the derailment, indicating a mechanical issue.”
“Then an emergency brake application initiated,” he continued, adding that a preliminary investigative report was expected within several weeks, though a full probe could take as long as 24 months.
Some of the footage was again referenced in a Feb. 14 update, in which the NTSB said that a surveillance video from a residence showed “what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.”
“The wheelset from the suspected railcar has been collected as evidence for metallurgical examination,” the NTSB stated.
Investigators have found the suspected overheated wheel bearing, and engineers from the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington would examine it.
Investigators will complete their examination of the 11 tank cars that contained hazardous materials once they’re fully decontaminated, the NTSB said.
A total of around 50 train cars derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3, with some containing the toxic chemical vinyl chloride, which at high concentrations can be deadly.
Short-term exposure to the chemical can cause dizziness, headaches, and respiratory problems. Long-term exposure has been linked to various health problems, including liver damage, immune system dysfunction, and certain types of cancer.
The derailment prompted evacuation orders in East Palestine, a town of around 5,000.
The wreckage burned for days, and officials worried that the highly-flammable vinyl chloride could lead to an uncontrolled explosion, so crews engineered controlled detonations.
Besides being burned off in a controlled fashion, contaminants from derailed cars also spilled into waterways, with officials tracking a large “plume” of chemicals flowing down the Ohio River.
Around 3,500 fish have been killed by the chemical spill, according to an estimate by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, with around 7 miles of streams affected by the toxins.
Tiffani Kavalec, the head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) water management subdivision, said in a news conference on Tuesday that the plume is on its way toward Huntington, West Virginia, and that it consists mostly of “fire combustion chemicals.”
Kavalec said that the plume is moving downriver at around 1 mph and becoming increasingly more diluted, adding that the Ohio EPA doesn’t believe the chemicals pose a threat to drinking water. The Ohio River is “able to dilute the pollutants pretty quickly,” Kavalec said, adding that “we are seeing very low levels of contaminants” in the river.
The EPA said that water sampling is being carried out at various points along the river to ensure drinking water is safe.
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“State and local agencies are conducting sampling throughout the Ohio River to ensure drinking water intakes aren’t affected, and EPA is continuing to assist the state with sampling efforts at water treatment intake points along the Ohio River,” the EPA said in a Feb. 14 update.
Bottled Water Advisory
Ohio officials have urged some locals living near the train derailment site in East Palestine to only use bottled water amid concerns over the potential health impacts of hazardous chemicals that spilled into the Ohio River.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told a press conference on Tuesday that the pollution did not pose a serious threat to the 5 million or so people who rely on the Ohio River for their drinking water. Still, DeWine and other Ohio officials warned that residents using private wells near the derailment should only use bottled water.
“For right now, I think bottled water’s the right answer,” Ohio Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff said at the press conference. Asked by reporters whether he would return home amid cleanup efforts, DeWine said he’d be back home but would not be drinking water from the tap.
“I think that I would be drinking the bottled water,” DeWine said. “And I would be continuing to find out what the tests were showing as far as the air.”
“I would be alert and concerned,” he continued, adding, “But I think I would probably be back in my house.”
DeWine said on Feb. 8 that it was safe for local residents to return to their homes.
People in and around East Palestine have been asking whether the air and water are safe for their families, pets, and livestock after the derailment caused a fire that sent a cloud of toxic smoke over the town.
There have been reports of sick or dead animals and persistent odors, while the EPA said that a number of hazardous chemicals were found at the site of the derailment, including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate.
The EPA has been carrying out community air monitoring in East Palestine around the clock, saying in Tuesday’s update that it has “not detected any levels of health concern in the community that are attributed to the train derailment.”
As of Tuesday, the agency had screened 396 homes, and “no detections of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride were identified,” the EPA said.
But while the EPA has said that air monitoring hasn’t detected any hazards to health associated with the derailment, some locals have told media outlets that their health has suffered since returning home.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report. Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.
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