On February 3 at around 9:00 p.m. local time, 50 of the 150 wagons of a Norfolk Southern company train left the track as it passed through East Palestine, Ohio, a town of just over 4,500 inhabitants north of Pittsburgh. Panic began to spread: it was a dangerous goods train, with chemical products and combustible materials.
Among the materials was vinyl chloride, a highly toxic and highly flammable product. The fire that occurred after the derailment caused a smoke that forced evacuate immediately to residents of areas near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border in a radius between 1.5 and 3 kilometers around the event.
The image of the explosion of the train has been recorded in the retina of many Americans.
Officials conducted a ‘controlled release’ of vinyl chloride from 5 train cars after a derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, in order to prevent an explosion — but residents still don’t know when it will be safe for them to return to their homes pic.twitter.com/5O1d1emav3
—NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 9, 2023
When 12 days are up, the information has been widely filtered and the response of the authorities has not helped to stop the conspiracy theories which immediately broke out.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency The EPA has taken on the burden of the investigation. The first thing they are determining is the degree of affectation there is on the local fauna and flora, while at the same time looking for the causes of the derailment.
Toxic materials included vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.
The EPA was somewhat cautious in the early days. It was not until February 10a week after the event, when the agency confirmed that 20 of those 50 derailed wagons were transporting substances such as butyl acrylate, 2-ethylhexyl acrylate and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, apart from the cited and feared vinyl chloridewhich were being released both into the soil and into the environment.
Two days later, on February 12, and after carrying out the pertinent checks in the cities through which the toxic cloud caused by the fire had passed, they declared that were free of “contaminants of concern”, despite the fact that strange odors could still be perceived. The EPA and the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency were referring to 290 East Palestine homes: they claimed not having detected vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloridewhich are potentially deadly substances that could be in the environment.
However, those who decided to return to their homes or approached the area complained not only about smells, but also about serious respiratory discomfort, stomach and vision problems… In addition, numerous photos with dead fish and frogs in the nearby rivers raised fears of a mass poisoning that they were supposedly trying to hide.
While East Palestine residents are being told by Norfolk Southern and Ohio officials that everything is safe after the toxic “controlled release” — I’m here and witnessing creeks filled with dead frogs and fish. pic.twitter.com/UBh3zes59j
— Jeremy Loffredo (@loffredojeremy) February 14, 2023
The press, looking at the sky in the midst of the railway crisis
This event occurred in the midst of the relative hysteria caused by the presence of Chinese balloons in various areas of the United States. While the news about the Ohio train was relegated to the background, those focused on the presence of those air elements of foreign origin dominated the first pages and the openings of the news.
Conspiracy theorists claim that this media silence is due to the alleged power of Norfolk Southern, in particular, and of the trains in general within the American ‘establishment’. Statements like that of Joe Bidenwho called for calm and recalled the importance of the railway industry in the country did not help to calm down those who are already seeing deep throats and black hands behind this accident.
“A rail closure would devastate our economy. Without the freight railroad, many American industries would shut down.”
United States’s president
These words of the president come in a very specific context: the crisis of the American railway. At the end of 2022, a general strike in the sector was avoided with an express salary increase of 24% for five years, among other measures, after a law that was approved in just two days. Although everything seemed resolved, after the accident in Ohio there are those who joined the dots.
According to these theories, Norfolk Southern derailed the train in Ohio to pressure the federal government into making even more decisions in its favor. There is no proof in this regard, but there are not a few sectors, including those of the most extreme wing of the American rightwho have signed up about it.
The Netflix prediction
While the clouds dissipate, both the real ones of the train fire and those of the conspiracy, Netflix has seen how a movie from its extensive catalog was back in fashion due to the accident in Ohio.
This is ‘White Noise’, or ‘Background noise’. This film, which went largely unnoticed at the time, is based on a 1985 book, in which some people have to evacuate a city after a train had an accident and caused an explosion that released toxins in the air.
It so happens that a family from Ohio who participated in the filming as extras are among the evacuees.
Both the book and the film are based on a true event that occurred in India and that caused nearly 4,000 deaths. Something that, for the moment, has not happened in this event in Ohio.