A Mess

This is the aftermath of a train derailment that happened in East Palestine Ohio, recently. The derailment occurred on February 3. The train, containing 10 hazardous chemicals, flew off the tracks, near east Palestine, resulting in a huge fire. No injuries or deaths were reported, at the time. A change in temperature, in one of the cars, rwaised concerns that the cars would explode resulting in shrapnel being hurled out over a mile area. Residents of the town were frantically evacuated. A number of residents had already fled, given the release of chemicals into the air.

To reduce chances of the explosion, the contents of five cars full of vinyl chloride, a highly combustible substance, used in the making of plastics and associated with a number of cancers, were drained into a trench. A controlled burn was then initiated resulting in a huge black cloud plume of phosphene gas and hydrogen chloride, into the air. Phsophene gas, which causes breathing difficulties and vomiting, was a weapon used in WW1.

Five days later, the evacuation order was lifted. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that air and water samples had been analysed and came back normal. That being said, residents returned to a town where there was still strange smells, a number of dead animals, including pets left behind during the frantic evacuations, and dead fish in the waterways. The EPA states that materials did filter into the waterways and did the kill the fish but that the drinking water is safe. Returning residents are already complaining about headaches and nausea.

Town residents are angry because they are getting conflicting information from various officials. I suspect bottled water sales are going through the roof. Republicans, including Jim Jordan of Ohio are pointing fingers at the Biden information. They are stating that the train derailment is proof that the massive infrastructure funding Act, just passed,

First of all, the Act was just passed. Second, and key to this mess, the Obama administration were working on a number of regulations that would have significantly increased truck and rail transport safety. The Trump administration quashed this. Many of the regulators, within the Trump administration, were from industries that they were supposed to regulate. Of course, regulations that would decrease industry profits would be put aside One of those regulations quashed had to do with braking mechanisms that could have avoided this specific derailment.

Norfolk Southern, the rail company, involved in the derailment, lobbied the Trump administration to gut braking system safety regulations. To be more specific, Norfolk Southern’s efforts helped kill a regulation that would have required trains carrying hazardous materials to have an electronic system in place.

Lawsuits are already being filed. The derailment may have already happened but this mess is just beginning.

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