By Beatriz Garay
The explosion that happened in East Palestine, Ohio is an eye opener to consider if big railway companies are doing everything they are supposed to do in order to keep trains from derailment.
An axle falling off the train’s wheel caused the derailment, which could have been prevented if Norfolk Southern did their job-making sure all train parts and systems function well.
It’s terrible that it took a chemical explosion in a small town for the company to take greater precautions.
A spokesperson from the company said they are updating their guidance system and mandating any trains over 10,000 feet use distributed power systems.
A distributed power system on a train is meant to improve hauling capacity, increase brake coordination and increase rail adhesion.
It does this by using multiple sources of power along the train rather than exclusively from the front.
It seems though, Norfolk Southern hasn’t done much. Just a few days ago, another train of theirs derailed in Springfield, Ohio.
What is it going to take for this big freight train company to make sure their trains are working well?
Will they keep their trains from derailing to prevent causing harm to the environment and public?
BSNF, formally known as Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, is one of the biggest freight railroads throughout the nation.
In California, it travels from north to south.
BSNF transports anything and everything in the state – from hazardous chemicals to our daily goods, such as clothing.
In the port of San Pedro, BNSF is responsible for our daily necessities.
They move chemicals in mixed freight which means they carry chemicals and fuels, as well as passengers and our daily necessities.
If a derailment were to happen like it did in Ohio, not only will it affect the people of the location where the derailment occurs, but also the passengers on the same freight train.
If this company’s train were to derail, it would cause delays for southern Californians getting food from grocery stores.
In the case of a chemical explosion, fuel chemicals released into the air would cause health risks to the public.
Previous incidents show that the response of freight companies does not lead to an easy clean up.
While BNSF claims to be updating their standards in transportation, it is difficult to believe their word after the display of Norfolk Southern’s response.
They announce making changes, and preventable damages continue.
Even if these big companies claim to do better, it is impossible to trust their word when they simply announce changes, but no real changes happen.
We can hope that the number of derailments can be decreased, that these companies will live up to their words on establishing better safety measures to reduce damages from overturned chemical freight cars and other public harms.
Nothing is guaranteed in the field of railroads; if we are to continue the use of them, we need to ensure that these companies are putting safety over profit in their transportation standards.