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☕️ IGNITION ☙ Monday, February 13, 2023 ☙ C&C NEWS 🦠
Government experts came up with a plan to blow up millions of gallons of poisonous chemicals after a train wreck. I've gathered up all the reliable news in one place for you.
Good morning and Happy Monday, C&C! Today I rounded up the Norfolk Southern disaster story into one place for you, since between corporate media and social media, the news is fragmented, hard to piece together, and all the apocalyptic hot takes make for tough sledding. The real news is better, and worse, than people think.
🗞*NEWS AND COMMENTARY* 🗞
🔥 While we were all focused on corporate media coverage of military press briefings about the United States’ new war on unidentified weather balloons, which I will cover in more depth tomorrow, another more important story was quietly exploding in a small Ohio town. There’s little substantive media coverage of the alarming ecological disaster unfolding right now in Biblically-named East Palestine, Ohio. It’s been happening for over a week and you are probably just finding out about it.
To set the table, I searched the Wall Street Journal and found a series of bland articles covering the unfolding disaster that abruptly stopped three days ago. It sure looks like the Journal received orders to forget the story or something.
The WSJ’s first story published on February 5th, headlined, “Ohio Train Derailment, Fire Battle Rural Town.” The sub-headline reassured that “Officials say water and air are safe so far, but urge people to ‘stay away from East Palestine.’”
So far! Remember that, about the air and water. The Journal’s February 5th article described the accident like this:
Fifty cars on a Norfolk Southern Corp. train derailed Friday night about 9 p.m., causing a chemical fire. The National Transportation Safety Board said the eastbound train included 141 load cars, nine empty cars and three locomotives. It departed Madison, Ill., and was headed to Conway, Pa., when it derailed.
Mr. Conaway and Fire Chief Keith Drabick said emergency-response officials are aware of 14 cars carrying vinyl chloride, a colorless gas that can easily burn and is used to make polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin. Because of the smoldering fire, emergency responders haven’t been able to access the derailed cars.
Kurt Kollar, with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s office of emergency response, said officials were monitoring chemicals that reached some nearby streams, but said there is no current risk to the area’s drinking water.
Each of the fourteen chemical cars carried 25,000 to 33,000 gallons of vinyl chloride. That’s close to a half million gallons, or millions and millions of pounds of the chemical. From Encyclopedia Brittanica:
Vinyl chloride, also called chloroethylene, [is] a colourless, flammable, toxic gas belonging to the family of organohalogen compounds and used principally in making polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a widely used plastic with numerous applications… Vinyl chloride can cause liver damage, and it is classified as a known human carcinogen.
A spill of carcinogens would be remarkably bad timing if a population had somehow injured their cancer-fighting immune responses. Just spitballing.
OSHA considers vinyl chloride dangerous at 1 part per million (PPM). Here is the NJ Department of Health emergency responder reference for vinyl chloride spills, which says burning the chemical can cause an explosion, among other alarming facts:
So, reading between the lines of the Journal’s February 5th article, we can visualize baffled, gas-masked EPA bureaucrats standing there in East Palestine, peering dazedly at 141 derailed train cars, watching the chemicals gushing into local streams and, presumably, soaking into the town’s ground water, and wondering what to do. They knew East Palestine’s streams connect to the Ohio River, which feeds the Mississippi River, which dumps into the Gulf of Mexico through a vast delta system.
The bureaucrats almost certainly felt a keen sense of urgency to do … something. But what? A massive cleanup operation, as described in New Jersey’s Emergency Responder Quick Reference, would have been expensive, time-consuming, and even more damning, would have gotten a lot of bad media coverage of something you’d expect to see in the Third World, not in America’s breadbasket. No. They needed something … quicker.
On February 6th, the Journal’s headline read “Ohio Train Derailment Prompts Explosion Concerns, Evacuation Order.” The headline suggests the train could have spontaneously exploded, but the more nuanced truth appears in the sub-headline: “Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday instructed residents of East Palestine, Ohio, to stay away from their homes as officials planned to release chemical gas from five derailed tanker cars.”
Ah. So, before it all “exploded,” they planned to deliberately release the chemicals. Why?
The answer appears in an “update” on Norfolk Southern’s website and in a second article about the chemical train derailment published in the Journal on the same day, February 6th, which included this initial paragraph:
A team of experts released a chemical from five tanker cars and ignited it Monday afternoon to prevent a potentially catastrophic explosion following a train derailment Friday along the border of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
They “ignited it.” In contrast, the Norfolk Southern update said they planned to ‘vent’ the chemicals, and admitted they knew it would catch on fire:
The Journal cited the use of “experts.” They called in the experts! Thank goodness experts were on the scene. I bet knowing the government’s experts were working the job made those fretful East Palestinians feel a lot better. And so the experts came up with a carefully-designed plan with a lot of moving parts: lighting the chemicals on fire, “to prevent a POTENTIALLY catastrophic explosion.”
It was a plan my military-obsessed 12-year old son would come up with on his first try.
The plan must have been terrific, since experts designed it. So what do you suppose happened next? Remember: the GOVERNMENT’S experts were deciding what to do. Ohio’s EPA is packed with diversity hires and nepotistic appointments. And they were being advised by FEDERAL experts and officials as well as the chemical industry’s public relations damage-control team. So we are NOT talking the country’s best and brightest, who were all laid off for not taking the jabs anyway.
As the headline explained, the plan to stop the chemicals from quickly draining into the Ohio river, sorry, I mean to “PREVENT a catastrophic explosion,” the government’s bumbling, industry-captured experts wound up CAUSING a catastrophic explosion.
New Jersey’s Fact Sheet says burning vinyl chloride makes it into hydrogen chloride, which easily binds with water to make hydrochloric acid, and phosgene, a deadly gas, the use of which is a war crime. Hydrogen chloride is not much fun either, as the Encyclopedia Brittanica points out:
Exposure to 0.1 percent by volume hydrogen chloride gas in the atmosphere may cause death in a few minutes. Concentrated hydrochloric acid causes burns and inflammation of the skin.
On February 6th, the same day the experts detonated the chemicals, CBS News ran a story reporting dead fish appearing in creeks up to five miles away. The sub-headline read, “A couple who live about five miles from where the train derailed spotted dead fish in Leslie Run on Sunday night and Monday morning; KDKA’s Erica Mokay reports.”
The Ohio River is only fifteen miles from the site of the accident.
On February 7th, two days after experts blew up the vinyl chloride, the Journal reported a mandatory evacuation in East Palestine was underway. Note that they didn’t evacuate folks BEFORE they blew up the chemicals.* In other words, they didn’t predict the fallout.
* UPDATE 11:20am. A commenter who lives in the area said there was a pre-venting evacuation within a one-mile radius. Officials failed to foresee the need for the larger evacuation.
On February 8th, the Pennsylvania Department of Health published a fact sheet reassuring residents there was no danger to them or to their animals:
On February 9th, the Journal reported residents had been cleared to return home and start baking casseroles and making hot chocolate. Nothing to worry about. It’s fine.
Meanwhile, social media posts by locals were telling a completely different, much more dramatic, and wildly alarming story. Locals have been reporting a massive wildlife die off. Fish dying in streams, flocks of birds falling out of the sky, chickens and cows dying on farms, pets dying in people’s yards. Reports of animal deaths up to 100 miles away were appearing as of this morning.
I couldn’t confirm any of those animal deaths except for the fish kills. There’re no local media reports of dead animals, and I found no credible first-hand posts or video on social media. So for now, all we know for sure is that a LOT of fish died.
On the fourth day following the explosion, the corporate media narrative started mutating. The Journal ran its final story on the derailment on February 10th, three days ago, and the headline read, “Train Axle Was On Fire Before Derailment, Video Shows.”
It was already burning? Oh. Okay. So … I guess it would have exploded anyway, is that right? That’s what we’re supposed to conclude? They couldn’t put the fire out somehow?
Since that pathetic excuse for a story ran, there’s not been a single article in the Journal about the crash, the chemicals, the ecological impact, the response, the cleanup, or anything else related to the derailment after that. There’s absolutely nothing after the February 10th’s lame attempt to make it sound like the train was going to detonate anyway. I had to find other sources to continue the timeline.
Also on February 10th, social media erupted after Ohio police arrested NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert while he was trying to cover a local briefing. The bodycam footage does not make it exactly clear whose fault it was. It also seems like other media were covering the briefing, so it wasn’t completely closed to reporters, which is what some of the hot takes suggested.
While some online pundits already consider the derailment story “old news,” the story continues to develop. Yesterday, local WKBN news ran a story headlined, “3 Additional Chemicals Discovered on East Palestine Train Derailment.” Oh. According to the story, the U.S. EPA said ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene were also in the rail cars that were “derailed, breached and/or on fire.”
Now they tell us! There was no reference to the experts’ intentional venting, burning and exploding. And we can also safely conclude that they have no idea what the environmental impact will be yet.
Yesterday, Reuters ran a story on the derailment quoting Judith Enck, a former EPA regional administrator, who said it was “unconscionable” that the EPA hadn’t publicly listed ALL the chemicals that were in the trains. The agency, she said, should launch a website showing local water and air test results “in a way that is easy for the public to understand.”
Then late yesterday the U.S. EPA posted the full manifest. There were lots of chemicals on that train, not just four:
I’m not the only one who’s skeptical of the evolving narrative. Local WKBN quoted Silverado Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist, who explained “We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open.” The specialist recommended that everyone in East Palestine should immediately get a health check-up, to make a record of where their health stands now, so that moving forward, they can document any injuries possibly related to the train derailment.
Norfolk Southern, the railway operator responsible for the accident, posted a long FAQ. They are offering financial assistance and home testing to anyone in the area:
My guess is that, to receive financial assistance, folks will probably have to sign something. If so, people should read the fine print carefully, and make 100% sure they aren’t releasing the railway from liability.
Norfolk Southern acknowledged the fish kill, but told residents not to worry about that:
I reviewed Norfolk Southern’s other FAQs. The answers include way too many lawyer weasel words, like “probably” and “as far as we know.” For example, in response to the question “Is my drinking water safe?”, Norfolk Southern provided this answer:
Due to the location of the derailment, it is improbable that substances from the derailment will impact the groundwater or drinking water wells in the area.
“Improbable.” That’s a weasel word. The right answer should have been that they’ve installed permanent testing wells and are posting the test results online in real time. Or they should have top railway officials go down to East Palestine and drink the water on camera. How about that?
Although corporate media isn’t covering it, a regional cleanup operation appears to be underway. One example is in this Twitter video, apparently showing environmental mitigation workers painstakingly collecting dead fish from streams, one slippery deceased minnow at a time:
Here’s a video explainer posted to TikTok by someone who seems to know what they’re talking about. But I couldn’t confirm his identity:
That pretty much brings you current. To summarize what we know — and don’t know — so far:
— Experts appear faced a difficult decision about whether to let the chemicals drain out of damaged rail cars or send them into the atmosphere. They decided to take the latter option. Some online commenters suggest that was the better choice, because burning dilutes the chemicals into a larger area (the sky) and protected drinking water.
— Norfolk Southern appears to be following the script for an accident of this type.
— Cleanup operations are underway.
— Long-term injuries like cancer are probable in East Palestine, but regional effects are presently unknown.
— I haven’t yet found any credible reports of animal kills, or even fish kills outside the East Palestine area. Not yet.
— Some people are saying Obama-era regulations relaxing railway safety rules when transporting dangerous chemicals appear to have made the accident possible. Others have claimed the cars were improperly marked and should’ve been handled more carefully. Still others say the railroads are understaffed and that’s why the accident happened. It’s too soon to tell.
To me, the unfolding accident is a metaphor for where the country is right now. This should never have happened in America. You’d expect to hear about something like this from Bolivia or India or somewhere like that. As the pandemic has already informed us, our agencies have been captured by industry and are being run by unqualified hacks.
The UK Guardian has the right idea. On Saturday it ran a story about the crash with this headline:
The entire country is headed down the wrong track, and if it crashes the disaster will make what’s happening in Ohio look like an early movie trailer. Nor should we forget how the pandemic created this disaster, through understaffing caused by vaccine layoffs and by over-stressed supply chains. In a sense, the Ohio accident is just one more injury directly attributable to our overpaid, over-fed public health expert class.
We need to fire them all and start over.
Have a marvelous Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow to catch us up on all the other rail cars stuffed with developing news.
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