Why are People Talking about a Chernobyl in Ohio, United States?

An environmental catastrophe has been taking place in Ohio since February 3, when a train derailed and released toxic products into the environment. Some people are referring to this situation as a new Chernobyl.


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LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: ¿Por qué se está hablando de un Chernóbil en Ohio, Estados Unidos?

A train carrying vinyl chloride derailed in the state of Ohio, United States, in a region that is part of the border with Pennsylvania. To control the situation and avoid a large explosion, the emergency teams started burning other chemicals. However, such burning released vapors into the air that are very dangerous and potentially fatal if inhaled. Thus, a column of hydrogen chloride and phosgene was created that caused a large cloud of contamination in the region.

In the process, thousands of people had to be evacuated from East Palestine and the surrounding areas. "Based on current weather patterns and the expected flow of smoke and vapors, anyone remaining in the affected red area is in serious danger of life. Anyone remaining in the affected yellow area is at high risk of serious injury, including burns on the skin and severe lung damage," quoted a press release from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

However, on February 8th, evacuees were allowed to return to their homes. In the official statement, it was reported that constant monitoring will be carried out in the air and sanitation assistance, for example, with water. However, multiple congressmen, both from the Republican and Democratic parties, have demonstrated to ask the central government for an official statement that gives a clearer part of the situation. However, to date, neither the Department of Transportation nor its secretary, Pete Buttigieg, have made official statements.

To date, no deaths have been reported from the accident. On February 12th, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a statement informing that everything was monitored and normal. "Air monitoring since the fire was extinguished has not detected any level of concern in the community that can be attributed to the incident at this time," the EPA said in the statement.

However, people on social networks and inhabitants of the area have spread that there are signs of toxicity, as they have found chicken, fish, and other dead animals. Experts have asked people to refrain from using water. What is worrying is that this river connects to large cities and there is concern that the contamination will continue to spread.

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Likewise, a debate has been opened on the safety in the transport of these highly polluting chemicals and very dangerous for human health. To put the damage into perspective, one of the toxic pollutants, phosgene, was used as a weapon in World War II.

Conspiracy theories about this accident have spread on Twitter and alternative media. Internet users and journalists have said that the controversy surrounding balloons or unidentified objects that have flown over the United States and Canada is really a smokescreen to hide what could be the biggest environmental catastrophe in recent years in the United States. These rumors and theories have increased due to the fact that journalists were detained in the area, according to the AP Agency.

The truth is that for now there are more unknowns than answers. The questions point to how responsible the authorities are for monitoring and how much they want to silence what is happening. While it is true that the immediate threat of explosion was stopped, it is necessary to assess the long-term risks.

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