A freight train derailment in East Palestine in Ohio near the Pennsylvania state line left a mangled and charred mass of boxcars and flames on February 3. Of the 100-plus cars, 20 were classified as carrying hazardous materials.
State health officials were initially concerned about the presence of vinyl chloride, a highly volatile colorless gas produced for commercial uses, which had been carried by 14 cars.
Three days later, on February 6 police revealed their fear of a “catastrophic” explosion at the site near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Consequently, they carried out what they described as a “controlled explosion”, with reports of a loud blast and a large plume of black smoke seen.
This is what they call a "controlled release" The train derailment in Ohio at a little town called East Palestine had at least 5 tanker cars full of toxic flammable chemicals, apparently the only options were to let it burn like this or it would go off like a bomb. pic.twitter.com/SfogMDO9hd
— 🥀_Imposter_ (@Imposter_Edits) February 7, 2023
The evacuation orders for the residents in East Palestine were lifted on February 8 after air and water samples that were collected in the region were deemed safe.
However, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the chemical spill resulting from the derailment had killed an estimated 3,500 small fish across seven and half miles of streams as of February 8.
JUST IN: ‘Disaster’ – Authorities are collecting dead fish from rivers surrounding East Palestine, Ohio, following major release of toxins due to a train derailment. pic.twitter.com/rMmUqqB541
— Upward News (@UpwardNewsHQ) February 13, 2023
Environmental regulators have been monitoring the air and water in surrounding communities and have said that so far the air quality remains safe and drinking water supplies have not been affected. However, some residents have complained about headaches and feeling sick since the derailment.
More toxic chemicals than first thought
A list of the cars that were involved in the derailment and the products they were carrying has now been released by Norfolk Southern. It reveals several more toxic chemicals that were released into the air and soil following the crash.
As well as vinyl chloride, other toxins, like phosgene and hydrogen chloride, were emitted during a controlled release and burn, prompting officials to issue mandatory evacuation orders in a one-mile radius of the crash site.
Among the substances were ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene were also in the rail cars that were derailed, the list shows.
Contact with ethylhexyl acrylate, a carcinogen, can cause burning and irritation of the skin and eyes, and inhalation can irritate the nose and throat, causing shortness of breath and coughing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Life imitating fiction
The small village of East Palestine was one of the filming locations used for a Netflix adaptation of Don DeLillo’s ‘White Noise’. The premise of the novel and film bear a remarkably similar resemblance to the recent events.
Wow. Here’s a movie just made about a train derailing with toxins in Ohio – filmed in Ohio where it just happened, & many of the extras were locals from East Palestine Ohio who, in the film,evacuated. Then months later they had to do so in real life! Bonkers! 🤯 please share🤯 pic.twitter.com/dNj1BS0wRK
— Erin Elizabeth Health Nut News 🙌 (@unhealthytruth) February 12, 2023
‘White Noise’ follows a fictional family who adapts to life in a town after the aftermath of a chemical event. A train crashes and collides with another vehicle, sending the chemicals it was carrying into the air and spreading through the local area. It is considered an Airborne Toxic Event in the story.