A rail accidentwhich in turn caused a chemical leak, recorded at the beginning of the month, aroused not only enormous concern about the effects it would have on the health of the inhabitants near the scene of the accident, but also endless theories in which even the U.S. government of trying to hide the true dimension of the catastrophe.
LOOK: “There are too many things we don’t know”: the fear in a US city after the derailment of a train with chemical substances
Two weeks later, the facts begin to clear up around the East Palestine, Ohio disaster, so in this article you will be able to understand what happened on February 3 and how the situation has evolved over the past few days. .
THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT
Minutes before 9 pm on February 3, a company train Norfolk Southern derailed near the town of east palestinein the state of Ohio.
In this town, near the state border with Pennsylvania, about 4,800 people live. From the first moment it was reported that no person had been injured or died as a result of the accident.
The train had 150 wagons, in which it transported various materials such as cement, steel or vegetables; however, 20 of them were transporting chemical material, as reported last week by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Of those twenty wagons, 11 derailed, causing the spill of benzene, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate, detailed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Additionally, a fire was registered that same night.
Train derailment has caused a massive fire and explosion in East Palestine, Ohio, which is NW of Pittsburgh
The train was carrying more than 100 oil tanker cars when it derailed and crashed into a gas station. Nearby neighborhoods are under mandatory evacuation. pic.twitter.com/ZVLjiwb8jJ
—Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) February 4, 2023
Although it has not yet issued a final report, the NTSB suspects that the accident was caused by the failure of one of the train wheels. A video recorded by the security cameras of a business located 30 kilometers from the scene of the accident shows some train wheels on fire.
RESPONSE FROM THE AUTHORITIES
The incident caused panic among the population from the first moment. The authorities, meanwhile, ordered the evacuation of all people within a radius of 3 kilometers around.
In addition, they decided to carry out the “controlled release” of vinyl chloride due to the fear that one of the affected wagons, which transported this dangerous substance, would explode due to the high temperatures.
When burned, vinyl chloride can produce other substances such as hydrogen chloride and phosgene, which can cause corrosive damage to the eyes, skin and respiratory tissues or even death.
The same vinyl chloride is also considered a substance with a high probability of causing cancer in anyone who comes into contact with it.
EPA detailed, on the other hand, that the other chemicals spilled in the place could cause irritation, dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting when inhaled.
The “controlled release” of vinyl chloride occurred on February 6, and on February 8, firefighters reported that the fire had been fully contained.
THEORIES OF COVER-UP
After controlling the flames, EPA assured that its team of experts in the area had carried out an air measurement and they did not detect “any level that could cause concern.”
In addition, the experts would have visited 500 houses in search of residues of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride in the environment without finding it in any case.
However, in the days after the disaster, the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that at least 3,500 fish died in nearby water sources.
On the other hand, reports from neighbors who reported that their pets showed signs of poisoning and some were even dying increased exponentially.
At the same time, both the inhabitants and the reporters who have visited the place have warned that there is a strong smell of chlorine in the environment.
This situation has caused several residents to resist returning to their homes since those who have done so do not consume water from the pipes for fear of being contaminated.
On the other hand, the situation has fueled a series of theories against the Federal Government of USAtheir supporters say that Washington has tried to hide the disaster through the sudden appearance of “unidentified flying objects” that caused a spike in tension with China.
Many others argue that the accident was caused by government negligence when they were warned about the need to maintain the train tracks.
Finally, there is a group that assures that its authorities would be willing to poison them with contaminated air and water as long as the scandal is not even bigger.
All these concerns led to the fact that at the beginning of last week, hundreds of neighbors gathered at a local school demanding that the authorities respond.
The senator for OhioDemocrat Sherrod Brown, reiterated Sunday during an interview with CNN that the levels measured by experts were correct, but added that residents “have the right to remain skeptical.”
The Norfolk Southern company has promised to pay each resident of East Palestine $1,000 as reparation for the damage caused by the accident, as well as to continue cleaning up the soil and water until they are completely clean.
But the concern of the residents -and also of other towns near East Palestine- does not go through financial matters, but mainly health issues.
The director of the Department of Health of OhioPresident Bruce Vanderhoff warned at a news briefing Tuesday that residents concerned about lingering odors or headaches from the derailment should know that these may be caused by levels of air pollutants well below what is unsafe. .
On the other hand, EPA has indicated that the amounts of contaminants found so far in the river Ohio they do not pose a risk to cities that depend on it as a source of drinking water.
As for East Palestine, local authorities reminded the population that the water they consume comes from underground wells reinforced by a thick layer of concrete, which prevented them from being contaminated during the accident.
From the White House, they have also announced that federal, state and local officials have the full support of the Federal Government to evaluate the health of people who were exposed or potentially exposed to chemical substances.
This pronouncement was a response to the request of the governor of OhioRepublican Mike DeWine, to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.