Many Displaced After Train Derailment in East Palestine Ohio

Residents Were Forced to Leave Their Homes After Dangerous Chemicals Were Spilt


The smoke rises after the fighting crash (CNN)

Henry Colley-Lambright, Staff Writer

On the evening of February 3, a train carrying vinyl chloride, a combustible chemical that could explode, derailed near East Palestine, a northern Ohio city. An evacuation order was quickly issued to protect the residents. While the vinyl chloride may have seeped into a local waterway, the evacuation order has been lifted as of Wednesday, February 8.

CNN’s photo of Ohio National Guard members working to contain the spill.

A controlled release of the vinyl chloride was carried out on Monday, February 6. Sara Smart, Holly Yan, and Michelle Watson from CNN report that the chemical was drained from 5 Norfolk Southern train cars around 4:30 p.m. on the 6th. The chemical was then set ablaze in the trench the chemical was released. While inhaling too much of the chemical could also be fatal, the authorities told concerned citizens that the scent of the fumes, which could travel miles, was still at a safe level to breathe in.

Vinyl chloride is extremely dangerous according to CNN’s Nouran Salahieh. Holly Yan, and Joe Sutton. It can be fatal in copious amounts, but it can also have other side effects, prominently cancer. Since it is a long-term carcinogen, vinyl chloride can lead to heightened chances of cancer in the liver, lungs, blood, and brain. If you are feeling dizzy, tired, or have a headache, that is a sign you too are exposed to the chemical and need to get to a safe location.

A 1-mile evacuation order around the crash was issued for safety concerns. It has since been lifted but some concerns remain. The water and air of East Palestine are being constantly monitored to ensure that the amount of vinyl chloride remains safe for residents. While the chemical has contaminated a local waterway, killing wildlife, it is being contained, and experts don’t believe that any drinking water was contaminated. The vinyl chlorides aftermath has apparently been mostly cleared from the site, but some residents have been angered that their welfare was in jeopardy.

A lawsuit against Norfolk Southern has been filed by a local couple and a business owner, accusing the company of failing to maintain equipment and not properly warning the public. The workers aboard the train were apparently aware of a mechanical issue before the derailment, but Norfolk Southern the circumstances. It is still not entirely clear what caused the crash so it’s not clear how at-fault the company was.

This crash may prompt more precautions in the future. The vinyl chloride spill displaced many residents of a town and could have caused casualties if it hadn’t been managed by local officials as well as it was. Hopefully, incidents like this will be prevented in the future before anyone is hurt.