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Following the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment, Toxic Chemicals Put Locals at Risk

East Palestine, Ohio and the surrounding area were blanketed in smoke when a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed and caught fire. Officials set up an evacuation zone and gave the go-ahead to discharge the dangerous vapors at precisely the right moment to avert an explosion. Many residents were relocated so that the toxic substances could be burned.

The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) assertion that the leaked compounds pose no "levels of concern" has done little to ease locals' worries. Norfolk Southern has already compensated families affected by the hazardous materials evacuation by more than $1.2 million, but the community is demanding that the company do more.

If there is sufficient evidence of negligence, victims of the Norfolk Southern train crash may file a toxic tort action against the company. Cases involving toxic torts can be challenging since victims must prove the company's negligence directly caused their injuries. A personal injury attorney who specializes in toxic tort lawsuits should be consulted for the best possible outcome.

Has the Norfolk Southern Train Derailment Polluted the Water Supply?

Small amounts of the hazardous substances were discovered in the Ohio River, which flows through and borders nearby states such as Pennsylvania. Soon after the fire, it appeared the toxic chemicals started impacting the environment as people living nearby observed dead frogs and fish in streams in the area, in addition to further reports of harm to the local animal population. Environmental specialists said that even though fish and frogs were seen dead, the drinking water in the area comes from the groundwater, so it will take a longer time for the chemicals to get there. Though the long-term impact of the chemicals on the drinking water will be unknown for the time being.

Once the East Palestine Fire Department removed the evacuation order, numerous residents complained of a weird odor and a burning feeling in their eyes as they entered their homes. Around half of the more than 400 persons who requested air quality monitoring in their homes have had their results. Although they are still monitoring the outdoor air, the Environmental Protection Agency has not found any harmful substances in the homes. Also, health officials intend to sample the soil and excavate any hazardous spots. The problem is made more difficult by the fact that a significant amount of the chemicals leaked into a ditch.

Were Any Hazardous Substances Released During the Train Wreck? 

State health officials were immediately concerned about vinyl chloride, a colorless, flammable gas often used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, plastic products, and furniture. The risk of lung, brain, and liver cancers, as well as lymphoma and leukemia, are all increased by inhaling vinyl chloride.

In addition to the vinyl chloride that was spilled following the incident, further dangerous compounds have been found, provided by an updated list from Norfolk Southern. They comprise:

Ethylhexyl Acrylate - a transparent substance void of color that doesn't mix with water and is frequently used to create resins for adhesives, paints, latex, and coatings for leather.

Isobutylene - O-rings, windows seals, jet fuel, and cling wrap are all made from this substance, which is a transparent gas with a faint petroleum odor.

Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether – a liquid that is clear and typically paired with household cleaners, paint, and braking fluid as a solvent.

Although the evacuations were intended to shield individuals from the possibly lethal detonation, experts have cautioned that there is still a chance that they could come into contact with the materials that have been left in the ground. Given that it concerns their families' safety and well-being, it is understandable that this has produced fear among the locals.

Is Norfolk Southern to Blame for the Chemical Spill that Occurred Because of the Derailed Train?

It took legislators a few days after the train wreck to fully grasp the scope of the environmental disaster. The locals have demanded that Norfolk Southern foot the bill for anyone who needs medical attention as a result of possible exposure to harmful substances.

If it turns out that Norfolk Southern did not exercise reasonable care when transporting hazardous materials, the company could be held accountable. If the company can be shown to have neglected public safety, it may be at fault. There should be no delay in getting medical attention for everyone who may have been affected by the accident, regardless of the possibility of legal action.

About the Author
Richard Console
Posted - 04/01/2023 | Ohio