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East Palestine’s train derailment hits home for one Springfield College student

Luke Whitehouse

On Feb. 3, a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. 

No one was hurt in the Feb. 3 derailment, but half of the roughly 5,000 residents of East Palestine had to evacuate. 

According to a New York Times report, authorities did not want an explosion to occur and so they took those chemicals and moved them to a controlled burning site. But even with this decision, the train was still set ablaze due to the derailment. 

As the chemicals lit a flame, they began to fill the air with toxins, creating a situation where the air was highly polluted, and concerns began to rise over the effect it had on the soil in the ground and the water supply. This left many residents questioning if it was safe to even remain in the area. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 20 rail cars were carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, Ethylhexyl acrylate and Ethylene glycol monobutyl ethers, and they were released into the air, surface soil and surface waters. 

Residents began to raise concerns about all of this, as it directly affected the small town of East Palestine, as well as surrounding areas, and aid was needed quickly. 

The impact of the derailment was felt all the way to Springfield College. 

Springfield College student Dylan Colangelo is from Youngstown, Ohio, which is about 25 minutes away from where the train derailed. Even though he is here in Springfield, the incident concerned him, as he began to hear reports of an explosion through social media. 

“My family was my first thought,” Colangelo said, referring to the moment he had realized what had happened. “Especially being so close to East Palestine. ” 

When Colangelo knew his family was safe and began to get details about what had happened, he began to shift his concern. 

“I was especially worried about the air pollution and water supply, ” Colangelo said. 

His mom told him details of what had occurred, the coverage of the situation – or lack thereof – was being handled very differently. 

Although this had massive implications on a community, it seemed as if the media did not want it out. When something like this happens, the more people that know about it, the more likely it is that aid can be sent, which is needed. 

Colangelo agreed: “There was obviously some suppression in the media of the situation,” he said. “When people need those kinds of resources, the company is worried about covering themselves up.” 

And Colangelo isn’t the only one who feels this way.

According to the same New York Times article, “residents of East Palestine lost trust in officials and in Norfolk Southern, saying that no one has clearly communicated the scale of the disaster and the public health threats.”

Although Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has said that tests conducted by the E.P.A. showed no contaminants in the municipal water supply, the federal E.P.A Administrator Michael S. Regan advised residents to continue to only drink bottled water. 

There are also concerns over the long-term effects of the explosion. 

There are still ongoing investigations and lawsuits surrounding the explosion.

Photo: NPR

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