Man Makes Disturbing Discovery on Property 1.4 Miles from Ohio Toxic Chemical Burn


It’s another day, so there are new misadventures in the sad story of the destructive train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Now a man says ashes have fallen on his home more than a mile away from a controlled burn at the wreck. And near his house, an undetonated blasting cap was found that he believes is related to the burn.

What is going on with this event? Why is it unique?

In nearly 200 years of railroad history, there have been plenty of derailments.

Many are no more than what motorists would call a fender bender — a wheel of a slow-moving railroad car falls off the rail and with the laws of physics on their side, skillful railroaders can use tools and even rocks to wrestle the erring wheel back to where it belongs.

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Some train wrecks — especially those involving passenger trains — have had fatalities, sometimes in the dozens. And in other situations, as in East Palestine, people have been driven from their homes due to spills of hazardous material.

But what is it about the Ohio train wreck nearly three weeks ago that has captivated the attention of so many people, except maybe those in the federal government and — at least at first — the national news media?

Perhaps that’s exactly the issue: Nobody has seemed to care until the devastation and tragedy could no longer be ignored.

As a result, over the course of this situation, a cast of characters has emerged, including the CEO of the railroad, the U.S. secretary of transportation and former president Donald Trump.

Is the response to the Ohio derailment a failure?

And now there’s Jerry Corbin.

Corbin, 73, is a radio personality for WXED in nearby Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. He is the author of a book about the Civil War, according to the Epoch Times.

He lives almost a mile and a half from where 38 cars of a 151-car Norfolk Southern freight train derailed Feb. 3. Eleven of the cars carried hazardous materials.

Preliminary assessments, including those of the National Transportation Safety Board, point to a burned bearing on one of the train’s cars, a defect known as a “hot box.”

Fearing an explosion as pressure rose in five cars containing vinyl chloride, Norfolk Southern ignited a fire that sent a dark mushroom cloud high above East Palestine.

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“The night of the crash, my wife and I were driving into East Palestine to go to the store,” Corbin recalled, “and we saw the fire and the smoke.

“I have asthma, so even before there was an evacuation order, we packed a few bags and went to a hotel away from the area,” he said.

Governor Mike DeWine described the need to evacuate as a “matter of life and death.” But DeWine lifted the evacuation order three days later and both federal and state environmental experts declared local air and water to be safe.

Returning to his home Feb. 9, Corbin found black debris resembling ash in his yard and on the roof of his house.

Then a neighbor brought him an undetonated blasting cap which Corbin said had landed in a nearby pasture.

He thinks the cap was used in setting afire the vinyl chloride for the controlled burn.

The cotton-filled cap, which includes a wire, is “not real big,” according to Corbin.

“It would blow your hand off,” he said. “I contacted someone in the military and asked him about it. He said don’t have any static electricity around it, don’t drop it.”

By phone, the EPA told Corbin the ash did not come from the derailment.

“Then they sent some people out, and they were astonished about what they saw,” according to Corbin, who noted that representatives from the EPA took ash samples with them.

“A few days later, some more people from the EPA stopped by and took more samples,” he said. “I asked them to let me know what is in that ash before we plant our garden. We haven’t heard anything from them since.

“I want to know what’s in the ash, and if my soil is contaminated, and I want it off my property, ”Corbin told the Epoch Times.

“I didn’t put it there. Norfolk Southern put it there. They should remove it. We shouldn’t have to live in these conditions, wondering whether or not we can breathe the air, plant our garden, or even take a shower.”

Implementation of the controlled burn has reaped substantial criticism against Norfolk Southern, a decision defended by CEO Alan Shaw, who said, “The controlled burn – controlled release was the safest course of action for the citizens of East Palestine.”

Among products manufactured using vinyl chloride are PVC pipes. The National Cancer Institute ties the chemical to brain, lung, blood and lymphatic cancer, the Epoch Times reported.

When burned, vinyl chloride becomes phosgene gas, the infamous German World War I chemical weapon later banned by the Geneva Convention.

A lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court against the railroad stated: “Norfolk Southern blew holes in its vinyl chloride cars, and dumped 1,109,400 pounds of cancer-causing vinyl chloride directly into the environment”

Central to the criticism of the slow response to the rail disaster by the federal government has been that toward Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for being laggard in appearing on the scene.

And FEMA declined to provide aid until there was an indication by former president Donald Trump that he would go to East Palestine.

Some have blamed strong support for Trump in the lower-to-middle class area in and around East Palestine as reasons for federal indifference.

Following the derailment and controlled burn, Corbin has complained of headaches, coughing, throat irritation and problems with his nerves.

He’s concerned about dust arising from the cleanup site and whether or not it is contaminated.

“Many of us have been unable to work, so it costs us money. The anxiety of dealing with this on a daily basis is frustrating, and we need help.”

An ongoing concern expressed by local residents has to do with the unknown, both now and in the future.

“They keep telling us the water and the air are safe, but people all around here are feeling sick,” Corbin told the Epoch Times.

“They have not given us answers about the soil or even tested our soil. If the ground is contaminated here, we deserve to know,” he continued.

“If that’s the case, they should buy our property so we can relocate to somewhere safe.”

At this rate, there may be another sad story from East Palestine tomorrow.

And the next day.

And the next…

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Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.
Mike Landry, PhD, is a retired business professor. He has been a journalist, broadcaster and church pastor. He writes from Northwest Arkansas on current events and business history.