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Recent train derailments raise alarm over chemical spills and public safety

10 July 2024

Recent train derailments raise alarm over chemical spills and public safety

WASHINGTON DC – The Government Accountability Project, which has been investigating the East Palestine train derailment and response since last August, expresses great concern over the recent train derailments in Illinois and North Dakota. These incidents, just a week apart, have resulted in the release and subsequent burning of hazardous chemicals and mirror problems with the response to the derailment in eastern Palestine.

In Matteson, Illinois, a Canadian National Railway Company freight train carrying flammable liquids derailed on June 27, causing a leak of the chemicals and a flare of residual gases, similar to the infamous “ventilate and burn” was carried out in eastern Palestine which was later deemed misguided. The Matteson incident resulted in a mandatory evacuation within a mile of the derailment, and, echoing the experience of the community in eastern Palestine, local residents reported a variety of health symptoms such as skin problems and dizziness.

In it North Dakota incidenta Canadian Pacific Kansas City train carrying anhydrous ammonia, sulfur and methanol derailed in the small town of Bordulac before dawn on July 5. Residents within a mile of the derailment were notified of the incident and potential health hazards but officials only issued a voluntary evacuation.

In neither incident did EPA use its ASPECT chemical sensing aircraft to collect data. Instead, at the time of the derailments, ASPECT performed a no emergency assessment near Buffalo, New York, an older pollution issue since World War II.

Recently, Whistleblower for the Government Accountability Project and former EPA contractor Dr. Robert Kroutil revealed that the EPA broke protocol in its response to the East Palestine derailment by deploying the ASPECT aircraft five days late and then shutting down its chemical sensors over the contaminated streams during two flights on February 7, 2023. Nevertheless, the EPA declared that the ASPECT mission was ” successful” ” despite collecting minimal data. Dr. Kroutil revealed that the data the ASPECT aircraft would have collected in eastern Palestine could have prevented the “vent and burn” disaster.

“The EPA failed in East Palestine but it also appears to be failing today,” Dr Kroutil said. He noted that the New York mission is “an older issue, so it’s not a high priority. I don’t know why they couldn’t break away from that and do surveys in Illinois and North Dakota. The plane should have gone to those derailments. ”

β€œIt has just done a mission since East Palestine, added Dr. Crout. “It’s like ASPECT dropped off the face of the earth. It’s amazing how emotional the EPA ASPECT program is to the public.”

“Our ongoing investigation into the East Palestine incident has already revealed significant gaps in emergency preparedness and public safety protocols,” said Lesley Pacey, Senior Environmental Officer at the Government Accountability Project. “These recent derailments in Illinois and North Dakota further underscore the urgent need for improved safety measures and transparency in the transportation of hazardous materials by rail.”

The Government Accountability Project remains committed to protecting whistleblowers and promoting accountability in matters of public health and environmental safety. We will continue to monitor these situations and advocate for full transparency and appropriate action.

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. By prosecuting whistleblowers, publicizing concerns, and advancing legal reform, the Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, the Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, DC

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