Feds Blame Pittsburgh Train Derailment on Railroad’s Faulty Inspections

May 19, 2008

NTSB blames faulty inspection process in 2006 Pennsylvania d
A fiery train derailment near Pittsburgh in 2006 was caused by the railroad’s inadequate rail inspection and maintenance program, the National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s inadequate oversight of the rail inspection process also contributed, the NTSB said.

The Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. freight train derailed while crossing a bridge on Oct. 20, 2006, in New Brighton, about 25 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. No one was injured, but seven blocks were evacuated and several train cars fell into the river and released ethanol, which ignited and burned for 48 hours.

NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said the railroad put the public at risk because it had an inadequate inspection and maintenance program that resulted in a rail fracture from an undetected internal defect.

“Norfolk Southern was not conducting a continuous search of their rail for internal defects, which left segments of rail uninspected and in service indefinitely,” Rosenker said.

Rudy Husband, a spokesman for the railroad, said the company wanted to review the NTSB’s findings before commenting.

Steve Kulm, a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration, said the agency is in the process of putting together a nine-person office that specializes in detecting defects in rails.

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