Train cars are still smoldering in Ohio – will anything be done to keep it from happening again?

February 20 – Over the weekend, the train cars that derailed on February 4 in East Palestine, OH, were still smoldering. 

Emergency crews have been on hand at the site practically 24/7 since the Norfolk Southern train derailed. 

The train contained hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, a substance actually used in World War I as a weapon. To keep the chemicals from exploding, a slow release began after the derailment. 

The real concern, however, has been for the residents of the small town of East Palestine. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “That just tells you how toxic those chemicals must be when you think this many days later that it’s still areas that are hot and smoldering.” 

Senator Joe Manchin in West Virginia is calling out the Biden administration for their delay in response to the crisis. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “I’m seeing also some very small little rumblings of keyboard cowards, the diaper crew out there, hiding in their basement with mom upstairs calling them for breakfast here. I’m seeing keyboard cowards blaming Trump for what happened in Ohio. This goes back many years and quite frankly, if there was a problem, you’ve got all the power in your fingertips in this disaster that is called the Biden presidency. I’m getting a little sick and tired of everything going to blame on Trump, but that’s the easy, low-hanging fruit where the cowards will hang out here. Wherein lies the truth?” 

Barkdoll noted, “Like in so many of these situations, it’s a little bit of both because you certainly could make an argument that the current administration, they would have the power to engage in rule making, just like the Trump administration did.” 

Some of the rumblings are coming from decisions made by the Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, during the Trump administration. 

Barkdoll explained, “They relaxed rules on some of the braking requirements on these train cars that carry hazardous waste. The reporting is that was in response to a lot of lobbying from the railroad industry, saying it was simply too expensive. The flip side of that is, Biden’s been in office more than two years now. He has his own transportation secretary. They could easily re-implement those rules. He has not done so.” 

In fact, there have been hundreds of train derailments under the Biden administration. 

Barkdoll continued, “I think there would be plenty of blame to go around in a situation like this and it’s not as clear cut to say this is Trump’s fault or it’s Biden’s fault. You could realistically say all administrations have had a hand in this.” 

Ryan said, “Long before Donald Trump got on scene, this goes back Obama, this goes back two terms of Obama, this goes back quite a ways. So Trumps in there for four years and he destroys everything and the whole world is a total mess. Now everything’s just fine according to Joe Biden. It goes way beyond four years with Donald Trump.” 

“Right,” Barkdoll agreed. “I think the takeaway on this is you’re going to see some reforms I think related to this very subject, whether it’s the braking requirements on these cars or speed restrictions on these trains carrying hazardous waste.” 

This train derailment will likely in the long run cost billions of dollars and include ongoing exposure for years and years to come. 

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Senate are saying there will have to be reforms on regulating how some of the trains operate. 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We do have to look at how lobbyists influence things. Everybody does have the right to lobby. I don’t dispute that, but when we have lobbyists and donations being made. I know there’s big attention paid to the governor of Ohio and the donations he got and how much is that influencing then what they decide to do or how they decide to handle policy? We have to obviously look at that across the board. This is one stark example, especially when it comes to our safety in this country and security. That’s where you can’t have too much of this interfering with sound policy.” 

PA Governor Josh Shapiro apparently has not been out to the scene. Over the weekend, Shapiro directed the PA Department of Environmental Protection to do independent testing on the Pennsylvania border of the derailment site. 

Barkdoll said, “There are some Pennsylvania water systems that are within about 10 to 11 miles of that site accident. Naturally there are concerns. That’s close enough to be in the range of contamination. So at least in that respect, I think it’s good that there’s testing going on.” 

Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown said on the Sunday news shows that if he lived in that area, he would be very skeptical about what the government is saying and would be skeptical about drinking the water. 

Barkdoll said, “We’ve got several thousand people that have been forced to return home in that area that are still very much in the air about what life is going to look like going forward.” 

Jansen said, “They were telling people only a mile and half of this thing that they could stick around when they were doing all this stuff. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I understand they didn’t release their testing results. That’s a little bit suspicious, especially in an era where we don’t trust these government agencies anymore. I just feel like they’re doing everything wrong when it comes to assuring people that they can trust what they’re being told.” 

Barkdoll said, “We know on the Pennsylvania side, that one or two mile radius, which does seem like a really small area, there are only about 20 or so residences on the Pennsylvania side within that circle. However, we know with the jet stream moving west to east, all of those pollutants are moving well within to the state. The water pollution of course, streams, creeks, various tributaries, that also could be finding its way into the state. That’s why it’s important our own DEP be out there on site doing testing to make sure things are okay.” 

Jansen added, “There’s also reporting that the EPA had a warning for the well owners out there that there wasn’t enough clay between the ground and their wells. This is well before this, saying they could be contaminated so that’s very disturbing. Also, Norfolk Southern, come on guys. You’re offering a fund that would have given people $200 each? And then they say oh, oh, oh okay we’ll give you $1,000 each as a nuisance fee.” 

Ryan said, “In defense of Norfolk Southern, though, I did hear the president of the company saying we’re going to be here for the long haul and we’re going to make this right.” 

“Let’s hope so,” Jansen said. “If this is just an initial, we’ll help you pay for the bottled water, that’s fine, but that certainly can’t be the bottom line for anything.” 

Ryan continued, “I heard an apology actually from I want to say the president of the company.” 

Jansen said, “They should have been there. That nonsense about oh we felt threatened because some people online made nasty comments. I don’t think that cut it for them not showing up at that public event.” 

Ryan agreed, “But look at what you’ve got leading the country. You’ve got a useless piece of human debris in the president. You’ve got one who doesn’t go to the southern border out of Kamala Harris.” 

Jansen said, “We’re ignoring real problems.”