Around 30 train cars derailed early Thursday morning from a Norfolk Southern Railway in Calhoun County, just as the railroad company's CEO apologized to Congress for the devastating derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, which resulted in over a million pounds of toxic chemicals potentially being spilled.

Calhoun County Sheriff Matthew Wade told the press that train cars were empty when the crash occurred near Iron City Motorway. Officials reported no property damage or injuries.

However, this was not Alabama's only train derailment this year.

WSFA reported on a train derailment in Lowndensboro last week. The incident occurred near County Road 37 and Old Selma Road, and no leaks or spills were reported. 

According to ABC 33/40, a train derailed near Sycamore on a level crossing on Highway 21 on February 1. The cars involved were carrying slurry, a mixture of solids and liquid commonly used to transport minerals. 

According to Newsweek, there had been over a dozen reported incidents of train derailments in the United States so far in 2023 as of February 16. Train derailments are a common occurrence. There were 1,087 derailments in 2021. That number has decreased from 1,440 in 2011 and 2,234 in 2001.

Nevertheless, Norfolk Southern faces strict scrutiny from lawmakers and public opinion for the East Palestine derailment and its handling of the incident. 

According to reports, the derailment occurred on February 3. The company reported the incident to the National Response Center shortly before 11 a.m. Eleven of the affected 50 rail cars contained hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, an extremely toxic chemical associated with an increased risk of cancer. 

On February 4, officials asked East Palestine residents to evacuate the area. Norfolk Southern officials decided to prevent an explosion by executing a controlled release and burn of five cars containing the chemical on February 6. Authorities accused Norfolk Souther of failing to inform public officials that they were going to burn all five cars containing the toxic chemical instead of the one car that was at risk of exploding. 

The controlled burn resulted in a large plume and failed to contain an estimated 1.1 million pounds of the chemical. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) have announced investigations into the company's safety practices and have promised to examine five accidents that took place since 2021. 

Norfolk Southern's CEO apologized before Congress on Thursday and promised to clean the site with help from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local and state agencies in Ohio. Norfolk Southern already agreed to pay for damages. 

Norfolk Southern is headquartered in Atlanta and owns over 25,000 miles of railroad in the Eastern half of the United States. Several of its largest shareholders, such as Vanguard and BlackRock, have committed to investing with consideration of politically-charged Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores.

On Wednesday, Alabama Public Service Commission (APSC) President Twinkle told WSFA that her agency was doing everything it could to prevent something like the derailment in East Palestine from happening in Alabama. She also said the APSC was working with companies on problematic areas on the over 3,000 miles of track in the state.

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