Train Derailment Causes Massive Fire in Ohio

Image copyright: AP [via CBS News]

The Facts

  • A roughly 50-car-long Norfolk Southern freight train headed from Illinois to Pennsylvania derailed on Friday night near the town of East Palestine, Ohio. The incident sparked a massive fire and prompted officials to order the evacuation of 2K local residents.

  • With 500 residents reportedly still refusing to leave their homes, a local sheriff warned on Sunday that "there is a high probability of a toxic gas release and/or explosion," while the fire chief has told residents they need to "leave now."

The Spin

Narrative A

Thankfully, no train officials, first responders, or residents have so far been injured, but this derailment and its subsequent toxic gas release will put people at extreme risk in the future. It cannot go unsaid that this incident comes as rail corporations and Congress are rejecting rail workers' requests for paid sick leave, a simple measure that would significantly benefit safety in the sector. Action should be taken to reduce the risk of future incidents like this.

Narrative B

This derailment is concerning, but very rare when considering the vast majority of freight deliveries are made successfully every year. All authorities involved have sprung into action, and it's now the duty of those in the area to heed official warnings and evacuate if they live in the danger zone.

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