A Union Pacific coal train becomes the fourth to derail in the same area of Nebraska. This and several other derailments pose questions waiting to be answered.
Another number has been added to the three-train derailment streak when the Union Pacific coal train suffered the same fate in Nebraska. The coal train reportedly left its tracks at 1:45 am on Tuesday around Gothenburg. Following the accident, emergency response teams were dispatched to the site to contain and mitigate the damage caused. However, this is just one incident in a long list of train derailments that have recently plagued Americans.
Nearly 50 rail cars derailed from a Norfolk Southern train near the Ohio-Pennyslvania border, its metal debris rendering the area unlivable for over 4,000 residents. The hazardous materials conveyed by the trains were released into the air after the derailments. Officials immediately evacuated the area and conducted a controlled burn of the chemicals to prevent a potential explosion. Still, health and environmental concerns are alive among the general populace, and these fears are not meritless.
Hazardous materials, whether in the form of solid, liquid, or gas, can harm our health and the environment. The health effects of unsafe materials vary greatly depending on the material’s type, form, and concentration.
Exposure to hazardous materials can cause various health effects, from mild irritation to severe illness or even death. Long-term exposure can lead to chronic health problems such as cancer, organ damage, and reproductive health problems. Children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of hazardous materials, which can include developmental and growth delays.
The environmental effects of hazardous materials are also varied and far-reaching. Hazardous materials can contaminate air, water, and soil, which affects plants and animals. This contamination can have serious consequences, including disruption of food webs, destruction of habitats, and loss of biodiversity. In the Ohio incident, thousands of fish were spotted dead in waterways around the scene. Residents also complained about persistent coughs and burning eyes.
“Federal agencies have been way too lax for far too long about trains carrying hazardous materials,” Miyoko Sakashita of the Center for Biological Diversity told Grid. “For years, we’ve been warning officials that transporting dangerous chemicals and liquid methane gas by rail puts communities and our climate at risk. As we’ve seen, even a minor mishap can cause a major disaster.”
Local resident, Jesse Ambler, has emphasized the inconveniences caused by the train derailments to the town.
“It seems to happen all the time,’ he said. ‘I don’t know what the deal is.’
‘This is the fourth one in the last 10 months, it must be one of the busiest railways in America.
‘The rail company keeps laying people off and building longer and longer trains, but with less people to maintain the tracks. It’s a problem.’
He added that around 20 vehicles and an excavator were quickly on the scene following the wreck as authorities attempted to clean up the site quickly. Footage of the wreckage shows numerous carriages laid on their side while workers organize around it.
Pete Buttigieg, Transport Secretary of the United States, has attempted to downplay the situation by admitting that there are roughly 1,000 cases of derailments every year.
“While this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing. Obviously, they have levels of severity,” he said in a clip posted by Yahoo News on Thursday.
This statement has drawn the ire of several government officials who have criticized the secretary’s tardy response to the crisis.