Sparks and flames were shooting from the wheels of that train as caught on drone video, as it drove through West Salem, Ohio, where my cousins who have been life long residents were likely winding down an ordinary day on Friday, February 3, 2023 just before 9:00 p.m.
Then thirty-eighty of 147 cars on that track, ten carrying toxic chemicals derailed, sending plumes of black poison into the air. The authorities were quick to say no one was injured. Well, not yet at least. Nearby residents were evacuated.
According to local news coverage about 3,500 small fish in nearby streams as well as salamanders and frogs died, reported by Taylor Holzer, a local resident who rescues animals. About ten miles away, a backyard flock of chickens died and people reported animals getting sick or dying.
The Ohio governor, Mike De Wine, was told that the train was not considered a highly hazardous train, therefore the railroad was not required to notify anyone in Ohio what was coming through. To which Mr. DeWine responded, “…this is absurd…” He has since called on Congress to take action and spoken to people at the White House requesting on the ground assistance for East Palestine.
The representative of the EPA found no contaminants in the water after the derailment and have since assured people that it is safe to return home and to drink the water. The people aren’t buying it and some are filing law suits. One young couple interviewed for the evening news said that when they returned to their home, they felt burning in their noses and throats.
Up here, closer to Cleveland a day or two later, the winds were gusting at forty to fifty miles per hour, which led to concern for friends who are ardent walkers. Once the chemicals are spewed into the air, the wind carries them wherever it goes dropping particulate along the way.