Train derailment creates clouds of pollution over Ohio

Matthew Fox

On Febuary 3rd, 2023, a faulty wheel derailed a train in East Palestine, Ohio. The train belonged to a company called Norfolk Southern, it was carrying vinyl Chloride. Vinyl Chloride is a very toxic chemical, symptoms to exposure can include irregular heartbeat, dizziness , and stomach bleeding. 


The spill is a result of one of the main wheels on the train overheating and breaking down. Sending the train careening off nearby, and spilling its cargo. Norfolk initially promised to clean up the spill on it’s own, but the EPA has had to step in and create a cleanup plan for the company to follow. The EPA has also ordered that Norfolk pay for the cleanup in its entirety, for every day that the work is not finished, Norfolk must pay an additional 70,000$. 


Norfolk has offered compensation for the damages, approximately 1,000$ per person, Norfolk has also said that claiming this money does not forfeit any legal rights for the citizens. Meaning that it does not necessarily protect Norfolk from being sued for example. They have also donated 25,000$ to the American red cross. 


Although the financial aid may assist the residents, it cannot resolve the vinyl chloride pollution, it’s capable of seeping into groundwater and potentially polluting the water supply for thousands, potentially millions, of people. This also doesn’t answer the question of what happens with all the vinyl chloride released into the air, natural winds could potentially disperse it to various areas of the United States, possibly expanding the problem far beyond the state borders of Ohio.