The East Palestine Train Derailment

On February 3, 2023, at 8:55 p.m., 38 cars of a Norfolk Southern freight train transporting hazardous goods derailed in Ohio, United States, resulting in the East Palestine train derailment. Due to the occurrence, it has become one of the most intensely politicized events to affect the United States in recent years.

Horrified citizens of the town of 4,700 have filed complaints about various diseases that have spawned in the weeks since the wreck. State and federal officials have stated repeatedly that they have not detected any possible harm to the residents even though all of the compounds that were released into the environment were incredibly perilous. The chemicals that were spilled included: 

  • Butyl acrylate is a clear liquid with a fruity odor that can cause breathing difficulty and skin irritation.
  • Ethylhexyl acrylate is a clear liquid that is used to make paints and plastics and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract.
  • Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl ether is a colorless liquid that is used to make paints and varnish. In an experiment that exposed people to a high level of the chemical for several hours, some subjects reported irritation of the nose and eyes, headaches, and vomiting.
  • Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas used in making plastic products. The compound, which the E.P.A. has said was on five of the train cars, was of particular concern to authorities in the days following the derailment. The gas has what toxicologists describe as a “mild, sweet odor” and can cause dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness when inhaled in the short term, and a rare form of liver cancer after chronic exposure.

Even as officials vocalize that there have been no reported threats to the citizens, the people continue to worry, that is all because of Dioxins. Because they take longer to degrade, dioxins, which are harmful contaminants that may have been generated while the vinyl chloride cargo burned, could pose a long-term threat. These substances may be leftovers from burning fuel, even though they are already present in many situations. Now yes, The E.P.A ( Environmental Protection Agency ) has been working on reducing the amount of damage this production could cause to our land, but the concern amongst residents has not stopped one bit. These toxins could cause cancer, interfere with hormones and cause damage to reproductive and immune systems, so the outrage created by residents is completely understandable. 

The question “Has the release of chemicals caused people to get sick?” Still roams the thick webs of the Internet, and still, the answer is unclear. People who live in or around the area have complained of headaches, coughs, rashes, and other classic symptoms of chemical exposure. Experts from top environmental/health agencies have been constantly testing things to see whether the chemicals released have contaminated the town’s air or water, and the question has not been answered yet. They’ve still been unable to explain why people are reporting these symptoms.

Officials are continuously repeating the same thing that they’ve said since the beginning, that they have not detected any dangerous levels of chemicals anywhere in the environment, citing data from hundreds of households in the town. They state that the odor did not necessarily indicate the toxicity that was claimed, but that didn’t stop people from sniffing the water coming from their taps; wondering about the water in wells, and checking their mysterious scabs/rashes. 

The aftermath of the spill is still ongoing, the contaminants that spilled into the waterways affected about seven and a half miles of the stream. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, By February 8, the spill had killed an average of 3,500 fish. State officials then proceeded to use dams to divert the clean water around all contaminated areas —- it was said that the chloride killed the fish shortly after the spill, according to Dr. McBride, soil and environmental chemist. He said that he was a lot more cautious of if the vinyl chloride seeped into the soil, where it could remain for a very long period, potentially putting their nearby wells in danger. 

The whole situation has made a lot of backlashes come forward to officials of the state. It was reported that the administration had a delayed response, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, a Democrat, said that their acknowledgment of the incident was unsatisfactory. He denounced it as “unacceptable that it took nearly two weeks for a senior administration official to show up.”

Even as the accident continues to become an unsolicited radicalization debate, there are still animals dying and more people becoming sicker by the day. There’s no space to care about all of those things when the damages are still spreading around the state and could travel through more of the US if things continue to be mishandled by the officials in Ohio. 

There should just be more responsibility and at least a little accountability taken for any dictator or official that is supposed to be “helping” Ohio get put back together again, but instead they turn it into a republican vs democratic war, it’s embarrassing and hopefully, they get the assistance they deserve in this tough time.