A faulty or loose “truck,” essentially a wheel and an axle, on a southbound Norfolk Southern Railway train was the cause of the derailment that happened just after 5 p.m. Thursday at the north end of Fairgrounds Road in Lucasville, Valley Township Fire Chief Teri Horton said early Friday.
Horton said the wheel or truck apparently came loose a few miles back from the actual derailment site. She reported some observers claim to have seen the problem begin near the Carter Lumber store a few miles north. Horton added the loose wheel struck the side of a rail overpass, or bridge, and the car behind the damaged car apparently actually was the first to come off the tracks.
All in all, eight cars derailed, Horton said.
“This was not the fault of the engineer or the conductor,” Horton claimed, blaming the accident on a mechanical malfunction. According to Horton, no one, including any train personnel on board, were injured in the incident.
Horton described Norfolk Southern train workers as highly cooperative, walking the scene of the accident with local emergency personnel. She added Valley Township officials quickly notified the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency shortly after arriving on the scene of the accident.
In addition to Valley firefighters, emergency personnel from the Minford and Jefferson fire departments also were on the scene along with the Scioto County Hazmat Team.
Horton said hazmat officials were called in because one of the derailed cars carried a hazardous material placard. She said at first workers on the scene were not sure what was in the car as numbers on the placard were covered by a fallen tree limb.
According to a Google search, the number refers to a hazard number assigned by the United Nations for dealing with the transport of hazardous materials.
In this case, the number refers to a chemical known as “diphenyldichlorosilane.” A deeper Google search did not readily reveal the applications of the compound, though it appears to be used in certain chemical reactions. The chemical is listed as possibly flammable, though difficult to ignite. In any case, Horton said only a trace amount of the chemical was in the car which overturned, and none was released outside of the car.
Other tipped over cars did not contain hazardous materials but were shipping more mundane items such as some type of grain and harmless industrial pellets. Despite the lack of presence of any overtly hazardous materials, Horton said, deciding to err on the side of caution, on-scene officials quickly made the decision to close US 23 in both directions in the vicinity of the wreck, as well as SR 823.
Local emergency personnel were on the scene until roughly 10:30 p.m., when they were relieved by officials of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. Horton said SR 23 only was closed for about 50 minutes following the accident.
A Norfolk Southern spokesperson stated he initially was unaware of the Lucasville accident, but would check into the situation. He had not responded to a request for comment as of press time. Horton said crews from the railroad were on the scene late into to the day Friday moving overturned cars and beginning repairs on damaged track.