Wall Street is being blamed for toxic Ohio derailment

Wall Street is being blamed for toxic Ohio derailment
Ohio train that derailed was carrying toxic chemicals, officials say

The village of East Palestine, Ohio is still reeling following a train crash that saw toxic chemicals released into the atmosphere earlier this month – and now people are blaming Wall Street.

On February 3, a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed, and exploded, in East Palestine releasing vinyl chloride and phosgene into the air.

The crash resulted in 2,000 residents being evacuated from the area, while the long-term impact of the toxic chemical leak has yet to be fully realised.

An alliance of rail workers across different unions, known as the Railroad Workers United (RWU), argued this week in a statement that Wall Street-backed policy decisions continue to have a detrimental impact on the US rail industry and a negative influence on safety.

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Discussing the train derailment in Ohio, the message claimed that "the root causes of this wreck are the same ones that have been singled out repeatedly, associated with the hedge fund-initiated operating model known as 'Precision Scheduled Railroading' (PSR)."

The horrific accident took place in Ohio earlier this monthDustin Franz / AFP via Getty

It then went on to specificity the fault that resulted in the crash, saying it "appears to have been a 19th-century-style mechanical failure of the axle on one of the cars—an overheated bearing—leading to derailment and then jackknifing tumbling cars."

It continued: "There is no way in the 21st century, save from a combination of incompetence and disregard to public safety, that such a defect should still be threatening our communities.

"40 per cent of the weight of NS 32N was grouped at the rear third of the train, which has always been bad practice and made more dangerous with longer heavier trains," the statement continued. "This fact almost certainly made the wreck dynamically worse. But increasingly the PSR-driven carriers, driven to cut costs and crew time by any means necessary, cut corners and leave crews and the public at risk."

The group went on to say: "The short-term profit imperative, the so-called 'cult of the Operating Ratio'—of NS and the other Class 1 railroads—has made cutting costs, employees, procedures, and resources the top priority. In this case, NS and the other carriers have eliminated many of the critical mechanical positions and locations necessary to guarantee protection against these kinds of failures.

"What other such train wrecks await us remains to be seen. But given the modus operandi of the Class One rail carriers, we can no doubt expect future disasters of this nature."

It’s the latest development in the story, which seems to be a strange case of life imitating art.

The reality being faced by residents in East Palestine, Ohio seems to reflect the strange dystopian plot of the 2022 Netflix movie White Noise – which seemingly came true earlier this month.

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