News Release

Ohio Train Derailment: Braking Systems and Health Impacts


Days after a train derailment prompted a “controlled release” of chemicals onboard, residents of East Palestine, Ohio are no longer under an evacuation order. But residents are now reporting sore throats, burning eyes, and respiratory issues; local wildlife––including thousands of fish, backyard chickens, and a skulk of foxes––have also been reported sick or dead. Animal owners believe these illnesses and deaths are a result of unclean, unsafe air.

Reporters from The Lever found that the railroad industry blocked safety rules that would require the industry to update trains’ braking systems. If implemented, those changes might have prevented this catastrophic derailment from occurring. 

JULIA ROCK;, @jul1arock
    Rock is an investigative reporter for The Lever

On Democracy Now!, Rock said that the Obama administration attempted to require trains carrying hazardous materials and crude oil to install safer braking systems, which use electric braking rather than the Civil War-era “air brakes” that are currently in use––which use a pressure system to stop train cars one by one. The derailment, Rock said, “is the result of efforts by the railroad industry to ensure that they do not have to retrofit trains carrying hazardous materials and crude oil with safety features.”