East Palestine, the Facts
"The facts Mame, just the facts..."
First and foremost, there is only a slim “theoretical possibility of burning vinyl chloride forming dioxins which are known carcinogens. So far, no dioxins have been detected.” (1) Dioxins are the carcinogen present in Agent Orage that caused all the environmental havoc in Vietnam. Obviously, the narcissists employed by the powers that be to use the internet to make the stupid stupider thought it would be a great idea to throw dioxin into the mix in East Palestine.
The inspiration for this no doubt came from yet another negligent piece of reporting in the Washington Post where they interviewed Christopher Bowers, a chemistry professor and interim dean at Ohio Northern University. Bowers has zero credentials when it comes to environmental science. He is a chemist and not even a practicing one at that… (2)
Admittedly we were initially fooled by this nonsense, but I have the advantage of being the brother of the top practicing environmentalist in the country, Adrienne Esposito. After perplexedly informing me that there were no dioxins in vinyl chloride, the principal contaminant at the East Palestine train wreck, she explained to me that vinyl chloride breaks down into hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde, and carbon dioxide.
When burned vinyl chloride can give off trace elements of phosgene, which was used as a gas in WW I, but these are in extremely low yields and were negligible in East Palestine.
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Adrienne did express concerns about the lack of response from the Environmental Protection Agency, whose budget was practically slashed in half during the Trump Administration. Efforts should be underway to prevent the residual chemicals from leaching into the ground water and making their way into the Ohio River. The entire area transversed by the chemical cloud resulting from the explosion also needs to be tested. The EPA has done neither.
Perhaps the EPA is afraid to enter Ohio, a state that has consistently voted against any and all environmental legislation. On February 20, seventeen days after the disaster in East Palestine, a small explosion was followed by a very powerful one that leveled I. Schumann & Company killing one man and injuring thirteen others. The plant, which makes brass and bronze alloys, was located in Bedford, Ohio just seventy miles away from East Palestine.
On February 22 five highly trained environmental scientists, working for The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, were killed responding to the Bedford incident. Ironically enough the five were killed when their small plane crashed right after it took off from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas… (3)
The governor of Ohio Mike DeWine, a republican, made the decision, along with the Norfolk Southern Railroad to blow up their cargo of vinyl chloride, rather than trying to safely transfer the contents. Only one of the four cars was leaking, and critics are accusing him of doing what was most expedient for the railroad company regardless of the health and safety of his constituents.
These accusations are hardly unfounded. Governor DeWine’s second largest financier is Scotts Miracle-Gro whose second and third largest holders are Blackrock and Vanguard. (4) The largest holders of Norfolk Southern Railroad are Blackrock and Vanguard… (5)
The calamity in East Palestine is being blamed on a faulty wheel bearing, which was burning up and throwing off sparks, caught on cameras, for miles. It was undetected because Norfolk Southern refused out of monetary concerns to equip their cars with heat sensors.
Others from within the railroad industry are blaming the derailment on something called Precision Scheduled Railroads or PSR. A quaint acronym for policy’s initiated by Vanguard and Blackrock to maximize profits after they acquired the railroad. PSR advocates coupling as many cars as can possibly be pulled regardless of what they contain and the inherent dangers. (6)
"The former director of the Federal Railroad Administration, Sarah Feinberg, agrees that the size of the train would have been a concern. “I was not satisfied with the lengths of the trains, and they were 80 or 90 cars long,” she says of her tenure at the FRA. The derailed one had 151 cars. Even while adding more cars might make trains more efficient overall for railroad firms, it takes more time for staff to examine such a train. Shorter inspection times in the name of such efficiency, according to Jared Cassity, national legislative director for one of the Norfolk Southern workers unions, made it likely that the car that derailed earlier this month hadn’t been examined “in some time.”" (7)
Last year railroad workers citing the dangers of PSR, its reduction of their workforce and nonexistent sick days attempted to strike. They were stymied when Biden and congress imposed a new contract on them in December under penalty of law. In the wake of which the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department issued a statement saying, “The American people should know that while this round of collective bargaining is over, the underlying issues facing the workforce and rail customers remain…” (8)
5 - Ibid, 57:45.