Monday, February 13, 2023

C&EN: "Safety questions remain after Ohio train derailment"

Also in this week's C&EN, this article by Rick Mullin on the vinyl chloride spill in East Palestine, OH: 
An evacuation order issued following the derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying vinyl chloride in Ohio was lifted Feb. 8 after state and federal authorities determined that air and water quality were safe for residents to return to their homes. But questions remain about the safety of transporting the hazardous chemical.

People living near the accident, which occurred Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, a town of about 4,700 residents on the Pennsylvania border, began leaving immediately as a column of black smoke rose over town. In an effort to avoid an explosion, railroad and state authorities began a controlled release and burn of the vinyl chloride Feb. 6. Earlier that day, the governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania ordered an immediate evacuation of a 1- by 2-mile area that crossed the state line.

In all, about 50 cars—20 of which were carrying hazardous materials—left the tracks in the accident. Of most concern were the 5 carrying vinyl chloride. In a statement announcing the evacuation order, Ohio governor Mike DeWine warned that people closest to the derailment faced “grave danger of death.”

The article notes an estimate that only about 10% of vinyl chloride is shipped. Considering this incident and its undoubted immense costs, I imagine that the railroads won't be interested in shipping more hazardous materials in the future...

1 comment:

  1. I grew up near East Palestine. The local news published an article today about three additional chemicals that were on the train during the accident: ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene. However, it was not stated whether they were released from containment and/or were burning.



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