Derailed trains are more common than we think


Derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio

Lily Pruitt, Asst. News Editor

In the past month, there have been several instances where trains have derailed from their tracks. 

On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. About 11 of the 20 train cars containing hazardous materials derailed. Authorities worked over the weekend to get the fires contained while residents were evacuated. The area has been deemed safe to reside in again, but many residents are reporting several signs of side effects, including animals falling ill. 

On Feb. 13, a CSX train derailed in Enoree, South Carolina. There were no reported leaks or freight spills. 

Also on Feb. 13, a Union Pacific train derailed in Splendora, Texas. There were no dangerously hazardous materials in any of the train cars, but citizens were concerned because of the Ohio train. However, the company did send out a HAZMAT team and a team to monitor air quality because of the materials that were on board. There have not been any bad reports. 

On Feb. 20, a Union Pacific train derailed in Riverbank, California. It is reported that there are no leaks or spills, and a HAZMAT team has not been involved. 

On Feb. 21, a Union Pacific train derailed in Gothenburg, Nebraska. It was reported that hazardous material was spilled during this incident, but that the HAZMAT team was not involved. 

Many GC students are aware of the dangers of the derailments. 

“It’s really scary how things like that can happen,” said senior English major Scarrlee Porter.

There are many environmental concerns involved with these accidents. 

“There have been a lot of situations where it was not taken care of properly, and when that happens it gets into an environment and it causes illnesses,” said GC Chief of Sustainability Officer Lorianne Hamilton. “Plant life dies off, animal species die off, people start getting sick and going to the hospital, people die, birth defects start showing up, people become sterile and cannot have children, and these are things that happen.” 

Many residents in East Palestine have filed a class-action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern because of all the consequences of the train derailing. People have experienced chest pain, sore throats and headaches. Residents were forced to evacuate the area, but when they returned, they noticed that animals were dying, and many residents felt pain in their chest.

“I think people do have the right to sue because it totally could have been prevented,” Porter said. “They were not taking the right precautions.”

Not only are residents affected, but also plant and animal life. It is said that more than 40,000 animals have died as a result of the derailment in East Palestine. 

“Officials estimated 38,222 minnows and around 5,550 other species — such as other fish, crayfish and amphibians — were killed during the derailment,” said “USA Today” editor Paige Bennett. “The deaths occurred in a five-mile span within the impact area.”

“I could see more species becoming part of the endangered species list,” Hamilton said. “In the same respect for our soil, it does damage and contaminates our soil, so we are looking at potential of areas becoming unusable as far as growing crops, losing their vegetation that they seriously need, like our trees and our bushes that help soil erosion, and once we start losing trees — these things are vital for us to live — so these are critical things that we should be aware of.” 

GC students all agree that this tragic accident left a concern of negligence. 

“Oh, it was most definitely negligence,” Porter said.