A Norfolk Southern train derailed in the town of East Palestine, Ohio while transporting hazardous materials on Feb. 3. The derailment resulted in an evacuation of 2,000 residents. 

The freight train contained vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate and ethylene glycol. In order to avoid a lethal explosion, authorities believed it was best to detonate the chemicals which led to the huge mushroom cloud seen in multiple pictures surfacing online. 

So, who is responsible for the disaster? It’s a simple answer: Norfolk Southern. 

A company worth $51.9 billion, Norfolk Southern initially attempted to donate $25,000 to the Red Cross after the derailment. 

After being fairly divided, each resident would have received approximately $5 (the same price of a Little Caesars pizza). Imagine your life is completely disrupted, your water is polluted, your pets and livestock are dying, and a multi-billion dollar company hands you a whopping $5. 

Not to mention, the first five days of the fire were hidden from major media news outlets. No one was talking about an environmental disaster that many are comparing to Chernobyl. 

Although I think Chernobyl is a reach, it’s a worthwhile comparison: an event that never should have happened. 

The people affected deserve more than pity cash. They deserve a new home, a better response from our government, and an apology from anyone complicit in the derailment. 

Our government continues to cover up the severity and “protect” us from the truth. We have real life testimonies from the families, and yet they are reduced to fake news and an “overexaggeration.” 

Even now with access to social media, we have situations like journalist Evan Lambert being arrested at a press conference. Lambert was arrested after an altercation with police. Eventually, the charges were dropped because there was “no sufficient evidence.”  

It is time we see the United States for what it really is: a corrupt and greedy nation that exclusively functions for the wealthy. 

Wealthy corporations have no regard for public safety or regulations. Their only concern is making record profits every year. In the past, Norfolk Southern has fought for less regulation because it saves them money. For instance, the Obama administration required that High Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFTs) have Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes. 

The Trump administration overturned that requirement — no surprise there. In a 2022 report, the Federal Railroad Administration claimed that ECP brakes would reduce the severity of a crash. 

With the new Trump era policy, the freight train was not classified as an HHFT even though it carried many hazardous chemicals. 

Norfolk Southern workers even went as far as asking for more hires because there were not nearly enough working hands on freight trains to manage the reduction of safety regulations. 

The systems put in place neglect the rights of the average working-class person. We look at this town of East Palestine and see families who are now suffering at the hands of greed. 

This tragedy will not only affect East Palestine, but the surrounding states in the Midwest and East Coast. 

A large portion of the Midwest relies on farmers, agriculture, livestock, etc., so this will be an ongoing problem for months to come.