When an accident with a large transportation device happens, does anyone really consider how people living in the area are truly affected? 

March 28 – A little more than a year ago, a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio.

Those of us in Franklin County watched the developing story with sympathy, certainly, but also maybe with a little disinterest. 

After all, a train derailment in Ohio couldn’t really have anything to do with us, right? 

Right? 

Well, considering the effects bled into parts of western PA in terms of pollution, and also considering the fact that we are surrounded by train tracks in Franklin County, it might not be as far off from our lives as you might think. 

A hearing was held yesterday in Beaver County to talk about repercussions of the accident last year in Ohio. 

State Senator Doug Mastriano and Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM attended the hearing. 

Jansen said, “What struck me was this meeting by the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee was how people there feel like they’ve just been ping-ponged back and forth between Norfolk Southern and local and state and federal government ways of trying to deal with this. They don’t feel like they’re getting straight answers.”

Mastriano heads up the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. 

Jansen said, “They did want to be there to listen and I’m glad they did. Because I think it was important to hear this from the residents. Why does it matter to us? The reason it matters to us is we have a lot of train tracks going through this area. We could be the next small town and I think it’s wise. Let’s look at the response to a small American town where there aren’t as many voters, perhaps, to a larger venue where something bad happens. Of course there’s other interests, economic and otherwise, that have to be addressed in such a case. But that’s not to say again, that any of us can’t be the victims of a disaster like what happened in East Palestine, Ohio, and the border areas in Pennsylvania. I think it’s wise for us to look at this. They’ve been ping-ponged back and forth. They don’t feel like they’re getting transparency. They don’t feel like they’re getting real answers. They feel like they’re being pitted against each other. I found that to be pretty alarming. Then to find out that they did have this Railway Safety Act that the federal government, oh, we’re jumping into action here. We’re going to do this. What’s happened to it? It still hasn’t passed. The Federal Railroad Administration separately opened a safety probe into Norfolk Southern. What happened to that? What happened to all of this? It feels like a lot of talk, talk, talk, a lot of let’s put forth this proposal, and then nothing, nothing happens and these people feel abandoned.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll pointed out, “Unfortunately, this seems to be more the norm when it comes to a lot of government responses to problems these days. You go around the country, really all of us are a whisker away from some kind of a disaster like that. You’ve got rail or some kind of transit moving through your town and that’s why it’s important that federal and state officials be more and more cognizant of safety protocols on this. The other thing about that issue in East Palestine, I thought it was always puzzling that it was the governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, that authorized that controlled burn, the controlled explosion of all of those rail cars that had all of that toxic material in. At the time, safety experts apparently recommended that, saying that’s what should be done for the protection of the public, but of course the way the jet stream moves, all of that debris and smoke residue was coming right into Pennsylvania. I would imagine that’s where a lot of the Pennsylvania residents are still complaining about health issues because they suffered from all the remnants of that controlled explosion. I don’t know if there’s ever really been an answer provided to that.” 

Jansen said, “It stills seems like it’s not, but the NTSB later on after they looked into this they said it was not necessarily that that toxic material was stabilizing. It was cooling down. Now there’s a huge controversy. Was this made for business decisions by the railroad? Who in the government is responsible? They keep throwing it on the local guys, the mayor. It’s like no one will take responsibility for that. So that’s another huge open question.”