Train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio causes concern

The small-town disaster may affect the entire United States


Sean Asay

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

Leah Barnes, Copy Editor

On Feb. 3, a train derailed and crashed in East Palestine, Ohio, sending a plume of smoke into the air that hovered over the town. While any train wreck is dangerous, this one stood out because the train was carrying toxic chemicals.  

Many believe this event might be the most drastic climate-endangering event in United States history. 

The smoke that hovered over the town was enough to make residents fear for their safety. However, once it was discovered that the train operated by Norfolk Southern, an American Class I railway, was carrying toxic substances, they became more worried and were evacuated from the town. 

According to, “People have complained of headaches, coughs, rashes and other classic symptoms of chemical exposure.” Additionally, pictures and videos of dead animals ranging from fish to foxes have surfaced across social media. The fatality of animals proved that there was reason for concern for East Palestine’s residents. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) became involved, and because the train derailment was deemed preventable, Norfolk Southern was ordered to help cover the costs of the environmental clean-up. 

Contaminants in the air can easily seep into nearby bodies of water or groundwater, causing states who draw water from the Ohio River to worry about the quality of their water. This concern worsened considerably after hearing about the thousands of fish determined dead from the chemicals.  

Since the derailment, there has been debate over whether the water is safe or not to drink.  

According to, while the EPA said that they performed tests on the water and it contained multiple chemicals the train carried, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine claimed there were no contaminants. The residents of East Palestine are unsure of who to believe and are weary of returning home and using the water. 

This disaster put America on edge because it revealed that the government is not working together toward a common goal: the public’s safety. The EPA is a federal agency, and DeWine is a state governor. Both are part of the American government. 

Watching the government tug at different ends of the same rope in this crisis leaves the public wondering what will happen when another health crisis appears. 

The derailment happened too recently to determine any long-term effects, but in the coming months and years, the United States will discover the true extent of the problem.