New Norfolk Southern derailment as ‘walk teams’ work Ohio

(NewsNation) — A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Lexington, North Carolina, on Saturday, less than a month after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern said one of the 132 cars of the train derailed, but that the crew is safe. Officials said there are no reports of a hazmat situation or any other danger to the public, according to local news reports.

The derailment has caused delays at different stations across the Greensboro and High Point areas.

The derailment in North Carolina occurred as federal agencies started going door-to-door to check in with residents of East Palestine on Saturday, after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed in the village earlier this month.

Employees from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency will visit families to see how they are doing and connect them to any resources they might need, NewsNation partner The Hill reported.

Similar “walk teams” have taken the same action after hurricanes and other natural disasters, The Hill noted. While President Joe Biden didn’t say specifically how many homes need to be visited, he told employees to get to as many as possible by Monday.

On Feb. 3, a train of about 50 freight cars going from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, derailed in East Palestine. Ten of the cars contained hazardous materials, prompting evacuation orders 

No one was injured in the derailment, but three days after it happened, authorities burned vinyl chloride found inside five tanker cars. Officials said they needed to burn the vinyl chloride because of the threat of a larger explosion if nothing was done.

Residents have had a number of concerns about air and water quality since then, complaining about their eyes burning, headaches and the death of livestock and fish in local streams. Nearly 44,000 animals have died, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The Biden administration has faced some criticism for not visiting East Palestine after the derailment. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, accused Biden of indifference while on his own trip to the village Wednesday.

However, a White House spokesperson responded by blaming Trump.

“Congressional Republicans and former Trump administration officials owe East Palestine an apology for selling them out to rail industry lobbyists when they dismantled the Obama-Biden rail safety protections as well as EPA powers to rapidly contain spills,” the spokesperson said.

Biden held a phone call earlier in the week with top elected officials from the area, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Michael Regan, head of the EPA.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection completed collecting samples from 13 of the 16 known residential wells within a mile radius of the derailment site. Results of these tests are expected next week.

It plans to schedule testing of wells between one and two miles away next week. Concerned residents who live beyond that two-mile radius can request testing by calling the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection at 412-442-4000.

“The Department of Environmental Protection has been on the scene since the first hours after the Norfolk Southern train derailment, and we will stay in communities like Darlington Township as long as it takes to assure Pennsylvanians their air, water and environment are safe,” acting DEP Secretary Rich Negrin said in a statement.

The EPA has also announced that a new hotline has been set up to help support area residents and businesses who have questions on air monitoring, water sampling and cleaning services.

Those who need assistance can call 866-361-0526 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST.

Urja Sinha contributed to this article.

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