Trains Derail Across U.S., Causes Harmful Environmental Effects

Trains Derail Across U.S., Causes Harmful Environmental Effects

Lydia Brady, Reporter

On February 3rd, a train carrying over 100 freight cars containing toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. This is just one of many trains to derail in the United States since the beginning of this year. In 2023 so far, there have been more than a dozen train accidents, all varying in severity. Though these events may seem insignificant to some , it is still just as important to know about it, considering the railroad system affects people all over the country.

When the freight train in Ohio crashed, a large amount of vinyl chloride–a cancer causing compound– was purposefully released into the area during the process of clean-up. This vinyl chloride was then burned to prevent an explosion, but ended up causing thick, toxic clouds of black smoke in the atmosphere. Many residents of East Palestine had to evacuate and now complain of feeling ill, even though officials claimed it would not cause any significant impact on health. A large amount of the chemicals, including the vinyl chloride, leached into nearby water, causing deadly conditions for wildlife and contaminated water sources for the residents.

Railroads are much more critical to the nation than some people assume, as they transport food all across the country. Railroads are what makes such a large agricultural system in the United States possible. Without them, farms would have trouble feeding animals because there would be no proper transportation for the food, which would lead to a depletion of food for humans. Besides the factors of livestock, trains also carry many crops, making it possible for many areas with poor agricultural conditions to maintain proper diet. 

The East Palestine crash was due to a worn out bearing in an axle, which overheated and melted, leading to the train’s derailment. All aspects of the railway system in the United States are not being properly maintained. This crash unfortunately shows how even a small issue, such as a worn out bearing, can cause harm to thousands of people. If trains across the country are not being properly maintained, this will only lead to more environmental, agricultural, and health concerns. It is unfortunate that it is not until events like this that society makes a nationwide effort to change.