News 5 has learned that the train that derailed in East Palestine last week traveled through areas much higher in population, including the Cleveland area, before crashing in a rural area near the Pennsylvania border.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the train was traveling between Madison, Illinois and Conway, Pennsylvania. The crew came on duty in Toledo and the train then traveled through Cleveland before heading to where it eventually derailed.
The NTSB said it is still working on determining the exact route the train took on its journey.
East Palestine has a population of 4,761, according to the 2020 census. Cleveland has a population of 372,624.
A 2016 Norfolk Southern rail map shows its tracks crisscrossing all over the state. One of the main lines that goes through East Palestine also travels along the Northern part of the state and hugs the shore of Lake Erie before diverting south.
Until now, the route of the train that crashed in East Palestine was unknown.
Because railroads are on private property, there isn’t a federal agency that tracks train movements or routes in real time, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. When asked on Friday, Feb. 17, if he knew the train’s route before it crashed in East Palestine, Gov. Mike DeWine said he did not know.
RELATED – East Palestine derailment aftermath: How worried should people be?
The crash happened on Feb. 3 when a freight train derailed in East Palestine, right next to the Pennsylvania border. Dozens of train cars may have derailed due to a wheel bearing that was “in the final stage of overheat failure,” according to an early investigative report from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB said, in total, 38 train cars derailed. A fire damaged 12 additional cars. There were 20 total hazardous material cars in the train, 10 of which derailed.
Gov. Mike DeWine, seeking to avoid the danger of an uncontrolled blast, chose to intentionally release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, sending flames and black smoke again billowing high into the sky.
Norfolk Southern has since released an action plan regarding how it will handle the cleanup.
Test results in East Palestine's five water wells that feed the city's municipal water system show no sign of contaminants, according to Gov. Mike DeWine. The wells are located about 56 feet below the surface and are under solid steel casing designed to protect the water from contamination. Water from those wells is then combined at a water treatment plant and treated before flowing into residents' homes.
State officials are urging residents who rely on private well water to get their wells tested.
While drinking water is safe according to officials, some nearby streams have been contaminated. The train derailment and spillage of toxic chemicals has resulted in the deaths of 3,500 fish, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates, across approximately 7.5 miles of streams.
ODNR wildlife officers located dead fish in Leslie Run, Bull Creek and a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek, ODNR officials confirmed.
CLICK HERE to read more of News 5's coverage of the East Palestine train derailment.
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