According to a report from WKBN on February 12th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a letter to the rail company, stating that evidence of ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethlyhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene was found in the cars that derailed, were breached, or caught fire. Initial suspicions are that a mechanical defect caused the 50-car Norfolk Southern derailment.
The small town of East Palestine, OH has been dealing with this since February 3rd, with little to no mainstream media attention. Located just northwest of Pittsburg, East Palestine is used to large railcar sections running through. The chemical cars are usually safe, and to the knowledge of the residents don’t pass through with anything toxic. Now, this accident has shattered that disillusion, and many are left wondering what to do.
With fire and other responders from OH, PA, and WV responding to the tremendous emergency, many are starting to look at this as the 9/11 of the rust belt. These chemicals are known to cause cancers and raspatory issues. Many in the area were reporting these symptoms shortly after the crash, and it has only gotten worse following the fire and plume that has been released following the fire.
Looking like the mushroom clouds that follow a nuclear attack, the toxic nightmare has sent people to get tested. Following 9/11 thousands of first responders and survivors from the buildings reported unusual cancers, breathing issues, and problems with their brains. These diseases were largely denied in medical claims, as many lacked evidence of how their health was just before that life-changing day. As it stands at least one chemical is a known carcinogen, and all have tremendous side effects.
Not wanting to face the same fates as those who were left to suffer and live without treatment, hazardous materials specialist Silverado Caggiano told WKBN what happened. “We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open. I was surprised when they quickly told the people they can go back home but then said if they feel like they want their homes tested they can have them tested. I would’ve far rather they did all the testing.”
So far, officials have told the community that the vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride were perfectly fine to breathe. Claiming “there is no indication that any potential exposure that occurred after the derailment increase the risk of cancer or any other long-term health effects in our community members.” Statements like this have been what forced Caggiano to speak up and push for people to get the testing and ensure their safety.
So far animals in the evacuation zones have been dropping dead where they are. Animals from even further away from the site and dropping dead and even fell out of the sky in some instances. This is what pushed Caggiano to push for these exams. “There’s a lot of what ifs, and we’re going to be looking at this thing 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line and wondering, ‘Gee, cancer clusters could pop up, you know, well water could go bad.’”
As these animals tipped off Caggiano, they should be tipping off anyone who lives even remotely near the area. Especially those downwind and stream from the accident. While a water utility in West Virginia that is used by OH residents is upping its treatment process and creating a backup system to use as an alternative if needed according to the Associated Press. Given the distance between the utility and the delivery site, there is ample opportunity for seepage and problems to happen.
While no official word has been given about how and when cleanup will begin, you can guarantee this story will not be ending any time soon.