Lawmakers approved a plan that includes several railway safety provisions, nearly two months after a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous materials derailed in a crash in East Palestine, Ohio. The plan mandates a two-person crew for freight trains, requires personnel who receive messages about defects picked up by a railroad’s wayside detector system to immediately notify a train operator, and orders the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to submit written reports to the Legislature regarding the transportation of hazardous materials and waste.
According to statistics, over 13 million rail shipments take place every year. These shipments transport a wide range of products, including hazardous materials such as crude oil, chemicals, and other potentially dangerous goods. Although rail transport is relatively safe compared to other modes of transport, accidents still happen occasionally, leading to devastating consequences. The derailment of the Norfolk Southern train in Ohio in February, which resulted in hazardous materials spilling, triggered a safety review by the state lawmakers that led to the approved railway safety provisions.
What Is Vinyl Chloride?
Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas that is used in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics, which are used in a wide range of products including pipes, flooring, and automotive parts. Human exposure to vinyl chloride can occur through the inhalation of contaminated air in the workplace or surrounding areas, as well as through the consumption of contaminated food or water.
Once absorbed, vinyl chloride can cause a range of negative health effects, including damage to the liver and immune system, and an increased risk of cancer. Long-term exposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to an increased risk of angiosarcoma, a rare form of liver cancer. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of vinyl chloride contamination, including a 2012 explosion at a PVC plant in Louisiana that resulted in the release of large amounts of the gas into the surrounding area. The potential health risks associated with vinyl chloride make it an important chemical for toxicologists to monitor and regulate.
Health Risks: Vinyl Chloride Exposure
Exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride via inhalation can result in effects on the central nervous system, including dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, loss of consciousness, lung and kidney irritation, inhibition of blood clotting, and cardiac arrhythmias. Long-term exposure to vinyl chloride also increases the risk of liver, lung, and kidney damage, as well as various cancers. For those who have suffered from vinyl chloride exposure, it is important to seek legal counsel.
One significant requirement of the approved plan is mandating a two-person crew for all freight trains. The specified intentions are to reduce the likelihood of accidents and ensure safer handling of hazardous materials, among others. The guidelines set a clear rule that when loading, unloading, or handling hazardous materials or any other designated material under the definition of dangerous goods, a crew with security training must be present.
Furthermore, the approved plan enhances the usage of the wayside detector system by ensuring that personnel who receive messages about any defects must immediately notify the train operator. This proactive measure is expected to facilitate a prompt response and minimize the risk of accidents.
Additionally, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are required to provide written reports to the Legislature regarding the transportation of hazardous materials and waste. This will keep the lawmakers informed about the steps taken to improve safety standards and guarantee compliance with state and federal regulations.
In conclusion, the approved railway safety provisions will significantly improve the safety of rail transportation in Ohio. It is essential to implement these measures to minimize potential dangers that can arise from the transportation of hazardous materials, thus ensuring the protection of both rail workers and the general public.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to vinyl chloride due to the East Palestine train derailment and are experiencing symptoms mentioned in previous sections, contact our experienced attorneys at Luxenberg Garbett Kelly & George P.C.