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Controlled Burn Of Toxic Chemicals That Unleashed Mushroom Cloud Over East Palestine Wasn’t Necessary, Federal Official Says

A federal official with the National Transportation Safety Board said that the controlled burning of toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, after a massive train derailment last year was not justified.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told lawmakers on Wednesday that there would have been alternatives to busting open the train cars and burning the vinyl chloride chemicals inside after a train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed in February of 2023. The burn released toxic fumes into the area and left residents with concerns about their health and safety.

The company in charge of the chemicals, Oxy Vinyls, reportedly did not think a deadly explosion would occur, telling contractors with Norfolk Southern that “there was no justification to do a vent and burn,” according to Homendy. Instead, they could have waited and let the chemicals cool down.

Homendy said that Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) and other first responders did not know that this was a possibility.

“So Oxy Vinyls was on scene providing information to Norfolk Southern’s contractor who was in the room when the decision was made, and 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 said. “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.”

The information came out as Homendy was questioned by Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) about whether the controlled burn was necessary to avoid an explosion of the toxic chemicals.

“To sort of recap for folks, the mushroom cloud, the chemical mushroom cloud that captured headlines across the country was the result of a controlled burn,” Vance said, before saying that the central question was whether the burn was justified or not. Vance pointed out that the measured temperature of the chemical tank cars had dropped and stabilized after the crash.

Homendy said that to justify the burn, temperatures in the chemical tank cars would have to be rapidly increasing and there would have to be an infusion of oxygen into the cars. Both of these factors were not in play, according to Homendy.

Vance called the revelations “extraordinary” and suggested that the burn was done so that more traffic and freight could be moved through quickly.

After the crash, many East Palestine residents were forced to evacuate their homes after the derailment as the toxic chemicals burned, releasing poisonous fumes into the air, ground, and water. Norfolk Southern was sued by East Palestine residents, the state of Ohio, and the federal government.

-Daily Wire

 

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