Just a couple of weeks ago, on Feb. 3, a train was passing silently through the night —until it wasn’t. The 149-car freight train was passing through East Palestine, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, when a fire broke out and the train completely derailed.
What caused the wreck?
According to Jennifer L. Homendy, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, the first fire started as a result of one of the train cars. The car that set fire was transporting plastic pellets, which got heated from the hotel axel of the train and suddenly ignited.
Why is it so dangerous?
The derailment of this train from weeks ago has many serious implications on the surrounding community. The reason that so much chaos has ensued since the day of the wreck is because of the extremely hazardous chemicals that were spewed into the air and water ways after the crash. An article by CNN states that “five of those derailed train cars were carrying 115,580 gallons of vinyl chloride,” all of which was released into the air after the derailment. Vinyl chloride is a chemical found in many cosmetic products, however human exposure to the chemical can highly increase someone’s chances of having cancer, thus it is very harmful to human health.
What has happened as a result of the crash?
Since then, many East Palestine residents have reported that they are experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea and bloody noses — a host of health issues they say they did not have prior to the crash. At the same time, officials have been adamant in reassuring residents of the air’s safety and the municipal water supply. However, many questions have arisen about the state of the air and water quality.
Was anyone hurt?
While there were no human casualties in the derailment, the estimated animal death toll tops 43,700 since the derailment. Although this number if problematic, the Ohio Department of Natural resources remained positive in regards to the way things are moving forward since the crash, with CBS’s Mary Mertz saying:
“So because the chemicals were contained, we haven’t seen any additional signs of aquatic life suffering. And in fact, we have seen live fish already return to Leslie Run.”Mary Mertz
How things are unfolding now
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed Norfolk Southern, the transportation company, solely responsible for cleaning up all of the waste from the derailment. Many officials have also expressed frustration with the company after discovering that the derailment could have been prevented if those with the company has been paying closer attention to the strength of the cars that were carrying such hazardous materials as well as the varying temperature thresholds on railroads.
The biggest priority of the government and other officials is the cleaning of the waste and its disposal in the proper locations. The lasting effects of the train derailment continue to impact the surrounding communities, and those effects will probably still make an impact for years to come. Tweet us, @VALLEYmag, with your thoughts on what should happen next.