20 cars of Norfolk Southern train derail in Ohio; no hazardous materials on board, officials say

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — About 20 cars of a Norfolk Southern cargo train derailed near Springfield on Saturday evening, the second derailment of the company’s trains in Ohio in a month, officials said.

But unlike the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, a company spokesperson told NBC News there were no hazardous materials on board.

The Clark County Emergency Management Agency said earlier in the night that officials were working to confirm the company’s report about the materials. Late Saturday, in a tweet shared by the agency, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said: “We don’t believe hazardous materials were involved.”

No injuries were reported when approximately 20 cars of the 212-car train derailed while traveling south, near Springfield, the Norfolk Southern spokesperson said. Springfield is about 46 miles west of the state capital of Columbus, Ohio.

“Our teams are en route to the site to begin cleanup operations,” the company said.

The derailment, near the Clark County Fairgrounds, left more than 1,500 without power, and the agency asked residents within 1,000 feet of the site to shelter in place, but it said it has not issued formal evacuation orders.

Shawn Heaton told the Springfield News-Sun that he was waiting at the intersection as the train crossed the intersection and captured the start of the derailment on video.

“I was right there and I was playing on my phone and then I heard a loud bang. And when I heard the loud bang, I started recording,” Heaton said. “When I heard the bang, there was all kinds of debris and metal shoot out from under the cars and that’s when I started recording and you could see them start jumping off the tracks.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet Saturday night that he’d been briefed by the Federal Railroad Administration and spoke with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to offer support.

“No hazardous material release has been reported, but we will continue to monitor closely and FRA personnel are en route,” Buttigieg said.

On Feb. 3, 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, in northeast Ohio near Pennsylvania, derailed and several of the train’s cars carrying hazardous materials burned.

Though no one was injured, nearby neighborhoods in both states were imperiled. The crash prompted an evacuation of about half the town’s roughly 5,000 residents, an ongoing multi-governmental emergency response and lingering worries among villagers of long-term health impacts.

Joe Kottke and Elizabeth Maline contributed.

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