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NTSB: Accident investigation evidence may be lost due to shutdown

Robert Sumwalt is chairman of the NTSB.
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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) resumed normal operations yesterday and began developing plans to address work that could not be accomplished during the federal government's partial shutdown.

Of the 397 agency staff, 367 employees were furloughed, 26 employees were excepted and four investigators were recalled and worked without pay to support investigations of three international aviation accidents, NTSB officials said in a press release.

As of Jan. 25, the shutdown's impact on the NTSB included:
• 22 accidents in which the NTSB did not dispatch investigators, including two rail accidents that resulted in fatalities;
• one fatal railroad accident for which the agency didn't gather evidence to determine if an investigation is warranted; and
• a suspension of work on 33 ongoing rail, pipeline and hazardous materials investigations.

Regarding the 22 accidents in which the agency did not send investigators to the scene because of the shutdown, "it is possible that perishable evidence may have been lost, which potentially could prevent determination of probable cause," NTSB officials said.

In addition, the NTSB postponed the launch of its 2019-20 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. That announcement has been rescheduled to Feb. 4.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/29/2019