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The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

The Student News Site of Hazen High School

The Kilt

East Palestine Ohio Train Derailment


Timeline: How it began. 

 February 3, 2023, around 8:55 pm EST, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed. According to the NTSB and the Ohio News outlets, the wheel bearings of the train overheated to 250 Fahrenheit, which the made automatic braking systems of the train to stop working. 

When the train derailed in Ohio, it produced multiple small explosions which continued to burn into Sunday morning. When the local authorities began to look into it, they found a train carrying chemical tanks. From around 3 am to midnight, the local authorities decided to evacuate the citizens within a 1-2 mile radius. Knocking on their doors and warning them to evacuate. 

The local Fire chief, who was the incident commander, made this decision in consultation with Norfolk Southern, local law enforcement, and response officials. 

Governor Dewine said, “The tanks could have exploded anytime causing the shrapnel to fly within 1 mile and toxic fumes burning.” With a controlled explosion, they were trying to minimize the destruction and the radius of where the toxic fumes were going to spread, meaning it would burn much faster. 

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Many people from East Palestine have been upset about why they weren’t getting an official statement from the state government. 

On February 8, the local government was giving an announcement about the derailment. 

Aside from that the EPA (Environmental protection agency) is investigating it. The EPA stated that tap water is officially safe to drink. The EPA director said, “He would allow his children to drink and bathe in it.”  Which raised alarms in the media and set off a storm, it got more piled on after he and his colleagues supposedly “drank” the tap water, but in reality, they didn’t. Schools, businesses, daycares, and many more public places have their water systems closed off. This impacted the residents all over town.

The Results:

The next day, The EPA conducted tests on the water, the tests didn’t come out negative, so as of now the water is “uncontaminated,” but it takes months or maybe a year or more for the toxic chemicals to seep through the groundwater and contaminate it. Residents are claiming to have more frequent headaches and nauseous feelings. Another thing that EPA sampled was the air quality, and it shows about three times higher than the other towns nearby in East Palestine. This showed that the EPA was losing the trust of the public and it was deteriorating fast.

Public outrage: 

Almost a month later on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Norfolk Southern officials finally conducted a public meeting. Dozens of residents of East Palestine were booing and expressing anger over the government and Norfolk Southern Officials who sought answers after the February 3 train derailment. An EPA Regional Administrator, Debra Shore, who also joined the meeting stated, “I am pleased to report that since the fire was extinguished on February 8. EPA monitors have not detected any volatile organic compounds above health level concern.”

Residents shouted and booed at Shore, still unsatisfied with her answer. Many expressed disappointment that they are still experiencing health symptoms with no explanation of the cause. They were complaining about coughs, headaches, irritated eyes, and congestion. The day after the angry residents interrupted the railroad company official at the town hall meeting, Governor Dewine’s office released the official results of health assessment surveys conducted in the small town of East Palestine, Ohio. This revealed the most common symptoms the residents are facing. 

About 170 people observed by the doctors were 74% of the respondents. 64% reported anxiety. 58% reported tiredness/fatigue and 52% reported burning of skin/pain/irritation. The Department of Ohio health is using the survey information “to better understand how the derailment incident may be impacting residents.” 

The clean-up efforts:

The head of the environmental protection agency said, “It will likely take three months for the cleanup effort to be finished.” On Friday, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said about 6.8 million gallons of liquid waste and more than 5,400 tons of liquid solid waste have been removed from the site including 1,600 tons in the past 48 hours. The train company Norfolk Southern is handling all of the clean-up efforts since it’s their responsibility.  

EPA Admin Regan said there was “real progress” on the effort but he noted that “Norfolk Southern could be moving faster to remove contaminated soil from East Palestine.”  The clean-up effort stalled several times to request state officials to continue. 

Michael Reagan also said the railroad is subjected to civil penalties, damages, and costs as well as a referral to the U.S justice department to enforce the order. Ohio Governor DeWine said the pace of the clean-up effort had picked up in recent weeks. EPA representative Mark Durno said, “The first phase of the soil sampling began March 9, targeting the areas most impacted by the deposition in the community.” 

 The EPA is collecting samples over a one-mile radius surrounding the initial site of the derailment and another mile to the southeast, expanding all the way into Pennsylvania. Ohio, on Tuesday, filed a federal lawsuit against the Norfolk Southern Company, saying the company violated numerous federal and state laws as well as the state’s comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability act which is a Federal “ Superfund” to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites as well as spills, accidents, or any other emergency releases of contaminants and pollutants into the environment. In This lawsuit, Attorney General Dave Yost said, “The derailment was entirely avoidable.’’ 

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About the Contributor
Abhram Mendoza
My name is Abhram this was my first year working for the Kilt and I'm very happy to be a part of the new staff, one of my favorite experiences was definitely the process of writing my first story about Cancun and I'm looking forward to new experiences with this class!
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