It’s been almost two weeks since a major train derailment caused a bona fide environmental disaster in and around the town of East Palestine, Ohio, something you might not be fully aware of.
The derailment involved about 50 rail cars, 10 of which were carrying toxic chemicals, including five which carried vinyl chloride.
And because there was a fire after the crash, the railroad and the local authorities were concerned about the possibility of an explosion – so they emptied the train cars of the vinyl chloride and then set it ablaze in a “controlled burn.” It turns out that when you burn vinyl chloride what you get is phosgene gas – and if that sounds familiar, phosgene was one of the principal poison gases used to kill soldiers in the trenches in World War I.
So there was a massive cloud of this toxic gas released into the atmosphere on Feb. 6, which drifted around eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Assumedly it has dispersed, and the concentrations of the poison gas made by that controlled burn have lessened to the point that the entire region won’t be unlivable for years to come.
Of course, what’s happened since is these chemicals have made their way into the water supply and the creeks and rivers in the area are choked with dead fish. And this is now in the Ohio River, which flows into the Mississippi and the toxins will float all the way to the Gulf of Mexico eventually. Of course, five or 10 train cars’ worth of hazardous chemicals will disperse in such massive waterways. This isn’t exactly Chernobyl. The environment will recover, though in East Palestine there will have to be a lengthy and very expensive environmental cleanup.
Bear in mind that this is the kind of event which should generate massive media exposure and calls for all kinds of reforms – not to mention the resignations and firings of all kinds of corporate and governmental officials. Like Norfolk Southern Railroad’s CEO Alan Shaw, for example, or Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who has done nothing but make an ass of himself ever since the derailment.
Instead you’ve seen nothing like that. The legacy corporate media has utterly ignored East Palestine, despite having massive fiery infernos and satanic-looking mushroom clouds to show on air. That’s probably because East Palestine is poor and white and Appalachian and votes reliably Republican, so none of the narratives the corporate press likes to push can be satisfied.
So if you get your news from NBC or the New York Times, for example, you know very little about Ohio Chernobyl. This can remedy that to an extent.