Hazardous Train Derailment in Ohio

This photo shows part of a Norfolk and Southern freight train that derailed on February 3rd in East Palestine, Ohio.

A freight train went off the railroad tracks near the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio. The train crashed in a town called East Palestine, Ohio. Many of the train’s cars flipped over. Nobody was killed. However, this was no ordinary train crash. The train was carrying dangerous cargo.

The train carried hazardous chemicals. These chemicals are used to make products. They are usually used in controlled settings such as factories. People working around them need to follow many safety rules. When the train derailed, people became very concerned about these chemicals spilling. They can cause health problems. These chemicals can also make the air dangerous to breathe and water dangerous to drink.

One of the chemicals is called vinyl chloride. It is used to make PVC pipe. When the chemicals spilled, officials worried it could explode. They made people nearby evacuate their homes. Then, they burned the chemicals.

Environmental agencies have tested the water in East Palestine. They have tested the air. They claim that it is safe. However, residents do not feel safe. People living in the area complained of headaches and itching eyes. Thousands of fish in nearby creeks were killed by these spilled  chemicals.

Cleaning the area is serious work. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the train company, Norfolk and Southern, to pay for the cleanup. Leaders are also discussing ways to prevent similar accidents in the future. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wants to change rules about when residents are warned about hazardous chemicals passing through their communities.

What Do You Think? Were you aware many of the chemicals used in everyday products can be harmful? How do you think we should make sure they are safe?

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Images