Chemicals Emitted During Ohio Train Derailment Results In Federal Lawsuit, Demands For Health Tests

A federal lawsuit has been filed shortly after the fiery derailment of cars transported by a Northfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio that occurred earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, the plaintiffs hope to have the rail company required to establish health monitoring for Ohio and Pennsylvania residents.

The lawsuit filed Thursday by two Pennsylvania residents calls for the rail operator to pay for medical screenings and related care for anyone living within a 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius of the derailment to determine who was affected by toxic substances released after the derailment. The lawsuit also is seeking undetermined damages.

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed Feb. 3 in the Ohio village of East Palestine. No one was injured in the derailment that investigators said was caused by a broken axle.

Three days after the accident, authorities decided to release and burn vinyl chloride inside five tanker cars, sending hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air.

Obviously in hopes of allaying resident fears of contamination, Ohio EPA spokesperson James Lee issued a statement saying, local, state, and federal environmental protection agencies, established a series of containment measures to help limit environmental impact to local streams and rivers from water runoff from the site.

According to James Lee, the contamination containment measures include installing earthen dams to capture contaminants that may leave the derailment site and the installation of high volume aeration stations to help remove contaminants from Sulfur Run stream.

Transporting materials by train is very safe. But when derailments occur, they can be catastrophic and railroad accidents occur more often than people realize. It is unfortunate that it takes a catastrophic event, like what occurred in East Palestine, to make light of and address railroad safety problems and the Ohio train accident should be cause enough to finally investigate why they happen.

However, some residents have complained about headaches, chemical-like smells in their homes, and even feeling sick since the accident while others, understandably, demand a prompt response to identify and address train derailment fire-related problems. Short of Mother Jones using the occasion to publish an anti-chemical screed, not a peep of concern expressed by the publication nor environmentalists either.