A heavily toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has sparked environmental controversy. Following the accident, the train, which is operated by Norfolk Southern, underwent a controlled burn. The intention was to prevent a random explosion; however, the resulting impact of emitted chemicals was catastrophic. A personal injury lawsuit compares the incident to “chemical warfare.” Since the February 3 derailment, the residents contend that the drinking water and air quality have been contaminated; and they have experienced several health concerns, such as burning eyes, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.
The incident led to a series of poor decisions that have compromised the health and safety of the town’s residents. Not only did the controlled burn saturate the surrounding environment with chemicals, but officials permitted the evacuated residents to return only a few days after the controlled explosion. The town’s mayor and its residents have challenged the report that tests were completed to ensure the safe quality of the water and air. Several reporters and legislators have visited the site and have not only captured the concern expressed by the townsfolk but have illustrated the apparent polluted quality of the creek water.
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance has issued statements and video footage that contradict the reports that the water and air are clean. In one video, Vance drudges dirt from the bottom of a creek, which causes a rainbow-colored film of chemicals to travel to the crest of the water. In addition to the apparent environmental impact, residents have also argued that due to the contamination, their property values have diminished. The lawsuits filed on behalf of the residents not only intend to seek compensation for this lost value, but also hope to recover damages for medical costs and continued health care. To relieve the residents of further harm, efforts are currently underway to dispose of the firefighting water, used at the scene of the crash, in Texas.