preloader icon

Apex Trader Funding (ATF) - News

Deliberate toxic burn following Norfolk Southern derailment was not necessary, safety regulator testifies

New York CNN  —  A massive controlled burn that sent toxic chemicals into the air of East Palestine, Ohio, in February 2023 was not necessary, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board testified at a Senate hearing Wednesday. Under questioning from Sen. J.D. Vance, an Ohio Republican, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy agreed with the senator that evidence gathered since the incident showed the controlled burn of five railroad tank cars full of vinyl chloride was the wrong decision because the temperature in one tank car was coming down, the other four were all less than 70 degrees and there was no risk of explosion. On February 3, 2023 a Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, a small town near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, sending more than a million pounds of hazardous chemicals into the soil, water and air. Residents were ordered to evacuate temporarily and while state and federal environmental officials say testing shows the air and water in the town is now safe, some residents still complain of health symptoms such as burning sensations in their eyes, tingling in their lips, heaviness in their chest and swelling of lymph nodes in their neck and groin. When the controlled burn of the toxic chemicals was executed, three days after the derailment, it was announced it was because there was an imminent risk of an uncontrolled explosion if the chemicals were not released and burned off. The officials on the ground who authorized the controlled burn were told they had only minutes to make the decision before an explosion. But Homendy said there was no scientific basis for the controlled burn. “There was another option: let it cool down,” she said. “It was cooling down.” Vance said the NTSB investigators’ findings, which he praised, were very troubling. He said East Palestine residents have said freight started moving on tracks through the town soon after the controlled burn allowed for the removal of the tank cars. Aerial view of a train cars that had carried vinyl chloride taken two days after a controlled burn of the toxic chemicals in the tanks. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy testified at a Senate committee Wednesday that the controlled burn was not scientifically necessary. mpi34/MediaPunch/mpi34/MediaPunch/IPx “I won’t ask you to speak to motivation here, but when you have an unnecessary [controlled] burn that poisoned a lot of people, then led to rapid transit of train traffic, a lot of people, including me, are wondering, did they do this, not because it was necessary but because it allowed them to move traffic and freight more quickly,” Vance said to Homendy. “At the very least, it was poisoned for reasons that we can’t identify,” he said later in the hearing. “That should really concern every single person on this committee.” Homendy’s comments also brought harsh criticism from Ohio’s other senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown. Brown is not a member of the committee that heard the testimony and was not present Wednesday. “This is outrageous,” he said in a statement after the hearing. “The people of East Palestine are still living with the consequences of this toxic burn. This is more proof that Norfolk Southern put profits over safety and cannot be trusted.” Norfolk Southern, which did not have a representative testify at the hearing, issued its own statement Wednesday defending the decision to have a controlled burn. “The final decision to conduct a controlled release was made by the incident commander, with input from multiple stakeholders, including Norfolk Southern and local, state, and federal authorities,” said the railroad’s statement after the hearing. “The top priority of everyone involved was the safety of the community, as well as limiting the impact of the incident. The successful controlled release prevented a potentially catastrophic uncontrolled explosion that could have caused significant damage for the community,” it said. “To date, continuous environmental testing in coordination with and alongside US and Ohio EPA has shown the air and drinking water in the community are safe,” it added. But Homendy said in her testimony Wednesday that the people who were making the decision to execute a controlled burn were not aware that executives with Oxy Vinyls, the company whose chemicals were in the tank cars, were on the scene and telling Norfolk Southern and its contractor that there was no risk of an explosion. “When advice was given to the governor of Ohio, to the incident commander, they were not given full information because no one was told Oxy Vinyls was on scene,” Homendy testified. “They were left out of the room. The incident commander didn’t even know they existed. Neither did the governor. So they were provided incomplete information to make a decision [to have a controlled burn].”