February 7 – Huge plumes of smoke billowed over an East Palestine village in Ohio yesterday after a train derailment forced mandatory evacuations.
The effects were actually felt in neighboring counties in Pennsylvania, where Governor Josh Shapiro ordered residents to evacuate because of the fumes.
The train was carrying vinyl chloride, a highly-explosive chemical that was unstable. Controlled release of the chemical from five Norfolk Southern rail cars happened around 4:40 p.m. yesterday, according to Fox News.
Because of the release, residents were forced to evacuate their homes.
The Environmental Protection Agency is also checking the water quality and only after that is cleared can everyone return home and railway clean up begin.
The chemical was actually used in World War I as a weapon.
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “It’s not clear where the train was going. There’s obviously industrial manufacturing-type uses apparently for that chemical, but when you look at the photographs, there’s drone photography of this train derailment and the explosion, it is just awful. It just looks like chaos on the ground there and I can’t imagine how long it’s going to take to rebuild and restore those tracks.”
Apparently those tracks are in a very key corridor for transit in the northeast.
Barkdoll noted, “We’re not hearing much about that piece of the story, but I’ll bet as the day and the week goes on, that’s another piece of this that we’re going to be hearing more about. This could be very disruptive to transit and commerce in this northeast corridor.”
The reason for the derailment still hasn’t been completely discovered – it’s allegedly a mechanical failure.
Certainly here in Franklin County we have a pretty critical railway structure.
Franklin County Commissioner John Flannery said there is a monthly meeting between emergency services personnel, the commissioners and key officials in the county to prepare for any emergencies.
He noted, “We review multiple, potential incidents. We have a protocol for all of that, which deploys hazmat teams, there’s an alert system that goes out. We bring in resources and supplies and that’s all rehearsed and can happen very, very quickly.”
People in Pennsylvania could be out of their homes for possibly weeks after the train derailment in Ohio.
Flannery said, “We also plan for natural disasters as well what we can, which include power outages, huge snow storms. There is a protocol in place, we address it monthly and God forbid it should ever happen, we’re going to be ready.”
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “You think about how these trains thread right through the downtown and all of the people that would be affected, you go Greencastle, you go through Marion, you’re on your way through Chambersburg, you’re on your way to Shippensburg.”
The railroad companies own the tracks, so they would likely play a part in it as well.
Flannery said, “We met with some of the railroad owners not too long ago about some other things we’re doing. We have a good relationship.”
When it comes to the derailment in Ohio, a number of people are wondering if we have the leadership in the federal government to really handle it.
Ryan pointed out, “Given the absolute incompetence out of Pete Buttigieg (US Secretary of Transportation) don’t think for a hot second you’re going to get anything more than what he has already delivered on air, on the cargo ships in the Pacific. Don’t think you’re going to get any information out of this one. He’s celebrating some trans movement yesterday at the White House and you’ve got US airports and plane collision concerns. They’re so worried about DEI and woke. The scare that’s happening with the incompetence and what your children, you and your grandparents and your families are being sacrificed for optics out here is remarkable.”
At the Newark Air Port in New Jersey on Friday, a United Airlines plane allegedly clipped another United Airlines plane and snapped part of the wing off the plane. While there were no injuries sustained in the accident, there were passengers on one of the planes.
Then on Saturday in Austin, TX, a Fed Ex cargo plane was cleared to land on the same runway where a Southwest plane had been cleared for takeoff. The Fed Ex pilot stopped the descent in the nick of time and the Southwest plane was able take off safely, according to Fox News.
Ryan said, “It’s terrifying and if we’re hiring for equity and we’re not hiring for competence, we’re all in a whole hell of a lot of trouble.”
Barkdoll said, “I’m not sure why this now seems to be happening with so much more regularity. Remember there was another one a few weeks ago at LaGuardia airport where two planes that were taxiing almost collided and everyone had clearance from air traffic control. It is troubling that these things seem to be now happening with some regularity and I’m not sure what the issue is. Is it air traffic control malfunctions with software? We know Southwest blamed computer software issues for that meltdown around the Christmas holiday. It makes you wonder is there something larger going on with just the air traffic system in general that we keep hearing about this?”
Ryan contended, “All you have to do is look at the Shapiro start of the administration. It is about equity. The guy puts out ‘look at my cabinet. They’re the most diverse cabinet of all times here.’ It’s not about competency. It’s not about qualifications. Qualifications came after diverse and if that’s what’s happening at air traffic control or with your doctors or with your teachers, well you can expect more of this and it’s only going to get worse.”
Barkdoll said, “In any position of government, qualifications should always be our first and foremost criteria. You want the most qualified people in these positions, particularly things like this that are dealing with public safety. It’s not clear why this seems to be happening with more regularity, but I think from afar, it does seem like something is amiss here, whether it’s within the FAA, something within the Department of Transportation more largely, not clear.”
The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the train derailment as well as some of the recent airport near misses.
Barkdoll said, “They’re going to issue some kind of a report. Congress likely will get engaged here at some point. It will be interesting to see what they find and what, if any, recommendations they make.”