About a month since the disastrous freight train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, another Norfolk Southern train has gone off the tracks. Twenty or so of the 212 cars on a cargo train derailed near Springfield on Saturday evening, but according to a spokesperson with the company, there was no presence of hazardous materials. “I have been briefed by FRA [Federal Railroad Administration] leadership and spoke with Gov. DeWine to offer our support after the derailment today in Clark County, Ohio,” Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said on Twitter. “No hazardous material release has been reported, but we will continue to monitor closely and FRA personnel are en route.” People living within 1,000 feet of the derailment were initially advised to shelter-in-place out of caution.
Late this afternoon an @nscorp train derailed in Clark County. We don’t believe hazardous materials were involved. @OhioEPA, @Ohio_EMA, & @OSHP are on scene supporting first responders. President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg called me to offer help from the federal government.
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) March 5, 2023
The February 3 incident in East Palestine, a town of 4,700 people near the border with Pennsylvania, led to a controlled burn of substances to mitigate the risk of an explosion. Among them was vinyl chloride, “a colorless gas with a mild, sweet odor” used to make plastic products. Workers highly exposed to the substance have been found to develop a type of liver cancer. Although state and local officials have assured residents that the municipal water is safe for consumption, families are reporting symptoms such as headaches and skin irritation and expressing concern of potential long-term health effects:
Audrey DeSanzo lives paycheck-to-paycheck within one mile of the derailment with her 9- and 10-year-old daughters. She says she wants to leave as soon as possible, but with her $14-a-hour job, lacks sufficient resources to relocate. On a recent school night, she debated whether to send her 10-year-old daughter, Nevaeh, back to school after keeping her home for the day. Nevaeh has been suffering from headaches, stomachaches, and congestion, since they returned to East Palestine. Was the air safer at home—or at school?
The small town is filled with similar stories, whose endings may not be known for years.
The Springfield News-Sun reported that Saturday’s accident didn’t occur in an “area with a protected water source, ‘meaning there is no risk to public water systems or private wells at this time, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.’” Non-hazardous materials, including diesel exhaust fluid, were identified in the area and more than 1,500 residents have been affected by power outage. “I was right there and I was playing on my phone and then I heard a loud bang,” a witness told the Springfield News-Sun. “When I heard the bang, there was all kinds of debris and metal shoot out from under the cars and that’s when I started recording and you could see them start jumping off the tracks.”