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Norfolk Southern freight train cars derail in Pennsylvania

by SuperiorInvest

Norfolk Southern Corporation President and CEO Alan Shaw reacts while testifying before a U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on environmental and public health threats from the Norfolk Southern train derailment on February 3, March 9, 2023, in Washington. DC.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | fake images

TO Norfolk South A freight train derailed Saturday morning in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, spilling diesel and plastic pellets into the nearby river, according to local authorities.

No injuries were reported after a preliminary assessment of the scene, according to police and fire rescue departments in Lower Saucon Township, where the derailment took place.

Saturday's incident comes just over a year after Norfolk Southern trains derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, 2023, releasing toxic chemicals into the surrounding water and air and sparking a damaging fire. Days later, officials said the city had increased reports of headaches, nausea and other symptoms from residents.

The Pennsylvania derailment has not caused the same pollution so far, according to preliminary assessments. Still, the derailment comes as Norfolk Southern faces a determined activist group, led by Ancora Holdings, which has built up a billion-dollar stake in the company to oust CEO Alan Shaw.

“There are currently no evacuations or hazardous materials threats to the community,” the Lower Saucon Township Police Department said in a statement at 11 a.m. ET, hours after first responders were dispatched. “We ask that everyone stay out of the area so first responders and Norfolk Southern personnel can continue to assess and work on scene.”

First responders deployed “containment booms,” booms used to control the spread of oil, in the Lehigh River, where there was a diesel fuel spill from one of the train cars, police said. One of the cars also released a bunch of polypropylene plastic pellets.

Norfolk Southern crews joined local emergency services at the scene to assess the damage.

“Our crews and contractors will remain on site over the next few days to clean up, and we appreciate the public's patience as they work as quickly, thoroughly and safely as possible,” the company said in a statement to CNBC. “We are always working to improve safety. We will investigate this incident to understand how it occurred and prevent similar incidents.”

The company said it would vacuum diesel fuel from the river and clean up the plastic pellets. Meanwhile, a nearby road will remain temporarily closed.

The initial assessment of Saturday's derailment by the National Transportation Safety Board found that an eastbound Norfolk Southern train collided with a parked train on the same track. The resulting wreckage was struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern train.

The NTSB will send a team of “experts in train operations, train signals and control, mechanical systems and human performance” to the scene today.

Saturday's derailment in Pennsylvania adds to Norfolk Southern's already full schedule. The company has been dealing with the fallout from that derailment in East Palestine for the past year.

The company and Shaw's handling of the East Palestine fallout have been one of the things Ancora has examined in its proxy materials.

“We hope the crew and everyone in Lower Saucon Township emerge unscathed from another Norfolk Southern train derailment,” Cleveland-based Ancora said in a statement Saturday. He also reiterated the demand that Shaw resign.

The Environmental Protection Agency and White House officials demanded the company facilitate and pay for the cleanup and offer “unequivocal support” to East Palestine.

A year later, the community is still recovering from the Norfolk Southern train disaster, wary of the long-term environmental impacts the pollution could have caused. President Joe Biden visited East Palestine in February to express his support for the community and urge stricter regulation of rail safety.

CNBC's Rohan Goswami contributed to this report.

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