Norfolk Southern is the rail line responsible for poisoning the entire community of East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding region earlier this month when one of its trains derailed and spilled tons of toxic chemicals.
But the news gets worse for the company: A new report reveals that, over the past decade, accidents involving hazardous materials have shot skyward six-fold as the rail line increased the size of trains by 20 percent, cut 40 percent of staff, and refused to adopt safety measures.
The UK’s Daily Mail reports that “some 654 of the company’s hazardous material-carrying cars were involved in accidents in 2022, compared with 105 in 2012, Federal Railroad Administration figures show. Of those hazmat cars, 14 suffered damage in 2012, compared with 85 last year. Across the decade-long period, the company’s cars released hazardous materials 43 times.”
An examination of official data by DailyMail.com has exposed an increase in pollution levels as Norfolk Southern comes under investigation after a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The accident resulted in the release of significant amounts of harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
Residents, who are concerned about the continuing safety of the area, have filed a lawsuit against the company. Many have experienced physical symptoms such as skin rashes and respiratory problems. There are also concerns regarding the safety of drinking water, and numerous dead fish have been discovered in nearby waterways following the incident, the report said.
As incidents involving Norfolk Southern’s hazmat train cars have surged, the company has made extensive cuts to its workforce and increased the average length of its trains by 20 percent. Federal regulators acknowledge that longer trains can exacerbate safety concerns, while unions claim that the reduction in rail industry jobs is connected to a rise in accidents, noted the outlet.
In recent years, railroad companies such as Norfolk Southern have lobbied against regulations aimed at enhancing safety. The Department of Transport has released Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) data that provides information on the number of hazmat cars involved in accidents, the number that sustained damage during those accidents, and the number that released hazardous materials, the report continued.
Every year, hundreds of hazmat cars owned by America’s biggest rail companies sustain damage in accidents, but few actually release their dangerous contents. Unlike several other companies that have had a general decrease in incidents, Norfolk Southern has experienced a surge, the outlet said. BNSF, the country’s largest railroad, observed a decline in damaged hazmat cars from 180 in 2012 to 136 in 2022. Meanwhile, Union Pacific Railroad Company, the second largest, recorded damage to 201 hazmat cars in 2012, which decreased to 157 in 2022.
Unions, safety authorities, and even federal regulators have acknowledged that modifications to U.S. railroads, such as longer trains and fewer staff, could have a negative effect on overall safety. Norfolk Southern has claimed that its own data on accidents along major railway tracks indicate a stagnant or downward trend, depending on the years examined, according to the Daily Mail.
The railway sector has implemented a variety of significant operational modifications and reduced approximately one-third of its workforce over the last six years. Railroads now depend on fewer, lengthier trains, leading them to claim that they require fewer crews, mechanics, and locomotives.
Over the years, the average length of freight trains in the United States has been increasing as companies adopt precision scheduled railroading, which increases the quantity of cargo they transport and results in longer, heavier trains, the outlet continued.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is taking heat for refusing to go to East Palestine to tour the disaster area — as former President Donald Trump did — but instead traveling all the way to Ukraine to give away more American taxpayer money.
“So the Ukraine has your heart. But not America. Not East Palestine. Not the southern border. Not food cost twice as in 2020. Record debit. IMPEACH THE FOOL @GOP,” one user wrote on Twitter.
So the Ukraine has your heart.
But not America. Not East Palestine. Not the southern border. Not food cost twice as in 2020. Record debit.
IMPEACH THE FOOL @GOP
SEE IT: Biden’s message to Zelenskyy written in Ukraine Royal Palace guest book https://t.co/QNIh7c303Y
— An American ?? (@Joe7993) February 20, 2023