Leaked audio reveals US rail workers were told to skip inspections: The Guardian

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This video screenshot released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the site of a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, the United States. [Photo/NTSB]

In leaked audio heard by The Guardian, a manager of one of the U.S. largest rail companies once told a former carman to stop tagging railcars for broken wheel-bearings because doing so delays other cargo.

The report on Friday came as federal agencies were investigating the derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. A wheel-bearing failure was cited as the cause of the accident in a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to the report, in late 2016, Stephanie Griffin, a former Union Pacific carman, went to her manager with concerns that she was getting pushback for tagging -- or reporting for repair -- railcars, but the manager told her it was OK to skip inspections.

Griffin said the boss wanted to skip the inspection because it increased the dwell time. "It's very obvious that management is not concerned with public safety, and only concerned with making their numbers look good," the report quoted Griffin as saying.

"The regulation at the time stated that a wheel bearing was bad when it had 'visible seepage'. But that was very vague, and the bosses used that vagueness to their advantage," she said.

"Most railroad workers are fighting against an entire system that only exists as a money-making apparatus to the wealthy. Those trains run through our towns, but they do not run next to rich folks' homes, nor next to our politicians' homes. This is a top-down problem," she added.

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