The East Palestine Derailment


Nathan Hart, News Editor

On the night of February 3rd, 2023, a 151-car freight train began passing through East Palestine, Ohio. An alarm suddenly sounds, stating that there is an issue with one of the wheel bearings. Without a second thought, the conductor activates the emergency brakes, bringing the 1.76 mile heap to a screeching halt. When the crew exits the engine, they find a scene of fire and carnage. The train had been carrying various chemicals, including vinyl chloride and isobutylene, both of which are extremely harmful. The derailment and subsequent fire allowed these chemicals to become a thick smog that enveloped the immediate area. In the time since this incident, many in East Palestine have reported nausea and breathing issues. All the while, the EPA has assured residents that the derailment poses no immediate threat to the people or environment of Northeast Ohio. 

This event, while tragic, is not completely unprecedented. In 2005, two Norfolk Southern trains collided in the heart of Graniteville, South Carolina, with one of them transporting dangerous chemicals. The collision itself caused few injuries, but the resulting chemical leaks killed nine residents and injured over 250 others. The current situation is, so far, not quite as devastating as the Graniteville disaster, but the fact that this type of accident has occurred before makes the ongoing Ohio situation all the more unacceptable. In order for the transportation of volatile goods on American railways to become safe and reliable, the railways must put people over profit and implement improved safety measures. This solution may seem expensive in the short term, but it is a far better alternative to paying millions for litigation, restitution, and civilian compensation due to the damage their trains have caused and will cause if action is not taken.