Following the catastrophic train derailment on February 3rd and controlled release of poisonous gasses in East Palestine, Ohio that wreaked havoc on the environment and negatively impacted the health of residents Ohio Governor Mike DeWine‘s press secretary told The Ohio Star that the controlled burn was the “least bad option.”
Press secretary Dan Tierney told The Star that officials from state agencies, federal agencies, and Norfolk-Southern were in collaborative communication regarding the emerging chemical threat at East Palestine. These officials advised the governor and other officials that absent a controlled burn, there was a certainty the tanker cars with Vinyl Chloride would explode in a catastrophic explosion, not only with a chemical release but also with shrapnel traveling one mile in radius. The controlled burn also ensured any gaseous releases occurred as vertical as possible, which creates the smallest possible radius of the affected area.
“The decision was not controlled burn versus no release. The decision was controlled burn with mitigated release or uncontrolled explosion with certain release and a shrapnel event. Both were options were not good, but the controlled burn was the least bad option,” Tierney told The Star.
Sr. communications manager with Norfolk Southern Connor Spielmaker echoed Tierney, saying that the decisions were made collaboratively to ensure the town’s safety.
“Norfolk Southern hazardous material personnel were on-scene and coordinating with local first responders immediately following the derailment. Throughout the following days, decisions were made in consultation with our professional emergency response contractors, as well as local, state, and federal agencies and other experts on the best path forward to ensure the safety of the town from a catastrophic failure of the tankers. Remediation efforts continue on-site and in coordination with those same agencies,” Spielmaker told The Star.
In a press conference on Tuesday, DeWine said before deciding to implement the controlled release, he and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro spoke with representatives from the railroad who recommended that the controlled release was the best option for the safety of the residents.