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Norfolk Southern train derailment spills diesel fuel and plastic pellets along river near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


A Norfolk Southern train derails along the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania.

A Norfolk Southern train derails along the Lehigh River in Pennsylvania.


LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — Derailment involving three Norfolk South Trains near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, spilled diesel fuel and plastic pellets along the Lehigh River Saturday morning, the company and local authorities said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said preliminary information revealed an eastbound Norfolk Southern train struck a stationary train on the same track.

The wreckage from the colliding train then spilled onto an adjacent track and was later struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern train, NTSB officials said. The accident resulted in the derailment of an “unknown number of rail cars,” the NTSB told CBS News Philadelphia.

Officials said there was no danger to the public due to the derailment or spills and no evacuation orders were in effect. No injuries were reported.

Response crew members on scene near Riverside Drive have contained the diesel fuel that spilled from the locomotive using “booms” or barriers, and are vacuuming it out of the river.

Others are cleaning up polypropylene plastic pellets that a Norfolk Southern spokesperson said spilled from a single car during the derailment and landed “primarily on the ground.”

Emergency responders were dispatched to the site of the derailment at 7:15 a.m., just east of the village of Steel City, Lower Saucon Township Police Chief Thomas Barndt said in a news release .

“There was a diesel fuel spill into the Lehigh River as a result of the accident and booms were deployed,” Barndt said. “There is also a spill of polypropylene plastic pellets from one of the derailed cars.”

A few Lehigh Valley residents on social media said they heard about the derailment.

Images of the Nancy Run Fire Company Facebook page showed railcars off the tracks along the Lehigh River. The train carried boxcars and tank cars, as shown in the photos.

The photos also showed at least one train car partially submerged in the river.

🚨 Train derailment in progress 🚂 Rescue locomotive 1413 is currently on the scene of a train derailment in the…

posted by Nancy Run Fire Company on Saturday March 2, 2024

Norfolk Southern sent the following statement to CBS News Philadelphia:

“Norfolk Southern responded to a derailment in Lower Saucon Township, Pennsylvania. There is no threat to the public, no issues with hazardous materials from the railcars, and no reports of injuries to crew members. our crew. We appreciate the quick and professional response of local emergency agencies. Our crews and contractors will remain on site over the next several days to clean up, and we appreciate the public’s patience while they work so quickly, as thoroughly and safely as possible. We are always working to advance safety. We will investigate this incident to understand how it happened and prevent others like it.

NTSB said the that it is currently investigating “the collision and derailment involving three Norfolk Southern trains.” The investigative agency said it would send “a team comprising experts in railway operations, train signaling and control, mechanical systems and human performance.” The group is expected to arrive later Saturday.

Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure previously said on social media that nothing appeared to be leaking from the train’s containers. Later police statements mentioned diesel fuel and polypropylene.

“Norfolk Southern is on site and conducting an assessment. The most important thing we can do for our first responders is to stay clear of the site! said the county’s Facebook post time-stamped just before 8:30 a.m.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was called to the scene along with the PA Fish Commission and responders from local fire and EMS crews from Northampton and Lehigh counties, Barndt said.

Good morning. There was a train derailment in the canton of L. Saucon. At the moment, and all information is preliminary,…

posted by Northampton County on Saturday March 2, 2024

Governor Josh Shapiro said the Pennsylvania DEP and Emergency Management Agency will continue to monitor the situation, statement about X.

“Train derailments are putting Pennsylvania communities at risk. We must pass the Rail Safety Act now,” Senator Bob Casey posted on X in response to this morning’s events.

Norfolk Southern has come under fire over the past year on several train derailmentsthe most remarkable of East Palestine, Ohio when 38 cars of a 151-car train carrying hazardous materials derailed and 12 others caught fire. Since then, residents of the eastern Ohio city have reported health problems and there was also wildlife deaths.

There was also a derailment April 8 in Pittsburgh and another on May 10 in New Castle, Ohio.


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