Train carrying toxic chemicals derails in Ohio, residents evacuated

February 3, 2023 a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, spilling hazardous chemicals and causing a new discussion on train regulations and safety. The freight train fell off the track after a faulty wheel overheated. Locals in the area filmed the wheel smoking five miles before it fell off the track. The total number of train cars that derailed was about 150: of those about 20 were carrying toxic material. 

Residents of the town were evacuated after chemicals were released into the air due to the train catching fire. Authorities said the cars burned for two days, mostly controlled. Many chemicals were burned including five rail cars worth of vinyl chloride. But despite the control over the blaze, toxic chemicals made their way into the Ohio River. Thousands of fish and other wildlife have died. 

“From the very start of this, we have taken every step possible to assure that people’s safety was first and foremost,” said Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, at a press conference. Despite this statement many locals are very angry and have reported headaches, dizziness and rashes, likely side effects of the air toxicity.

The Environmental Protection Agency has declared that after the controlled burn there were not “any levels of health concern” in the air, which put some people slightly at ease. Nonetheless, many still feel like authorities are letting them down.