Wednesday 15 February 2023

‘We Basically Nuked A Town With Chemicals’: Critics Blast Detonation From Train Derailment

 After a “team of experts” decided to release chemicals from derailed train cars near East Palestine, Ohio, and ignite them, causing a huge explosion, some critics stated their disapproval of officials letting people return to their homes.

On February 3, about 50 cars on a Norfolk Southern Corp. derailed, causing a fire to break out. The train had departed Madison, Illinois, and was headed to Conway, Pennsylvania. Fourteen of the train cars each reportedly carried 25,000 to 33,000 gallons of vinyl chloride.

According to the National Cancer Institute, vinyl chloride exposure is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma), as well as “primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.”

“A team of experts” detonated the chemicals on February 5 and ignited it to “prevent a potentially catastrophic explosion following a train derailment,” The Wall Street Journal reported on February 6.

The CDC notes, “Vinyl chloride self-polymerizes explosively if peroxidation occurs (e.g., if heated, exposed to sunlight, or mixed with air and contaminants).”

On February 7, the Journal reported that a mandatory evacuation in East Palestine had been implemented. On February 8, officials said that residents of East Palestine could return home.

The Environmental Protection Agency later informed Norfolk Southern that ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene were also in the rail cars.

“We basically nuked the town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist, told WKBN. “I was kind of surprised when they quickly told the people they could go back home, but then said if they wanted their homes tested, they could have them tested. I would’ve far rather they did all the testing.”

“There’s a lot of what-ifs, and we’re gonna be looking at this thing 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line and wondering, ‘Gee, cancer clusters could pop up, well water could go bad,’” he added.

“The biggest question remaining is what, if anything, is still being released from the site, first and foremost,” Peter DeCarlo, an environmental health professor at Johns Hopkins University, told The Washington Post. “If there are still residual chemical emissions, then that still presents a danger for people in the area.”

Caggiano recommended residents get a health check-up so they would have a record to compare with their health years from now.

Local resident Eric Whitining told the Post, “For a small town, we have to trust them, because what else do we have to do? We have to trust that they are not lying to us.”

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