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Study: Regional Rivers Overwhelmingly Threatened by Train Derailments

May 11, 2023 Leave a comment DRI Admin

In the wake of the disaster in East Palestine, OH, there has been an increase in scrutiny over train derailments and the hazards they can cause to the surrounding communities. A recent study has found that in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area, one environment is overwhelmingly threatened.

In a report published by the University of Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water Research, Education and Outreach, researchers analyzed data from the Federal Railroad Administration. Plotting all regional rail accidents between 2011 and 2022, they found that most train derailments in the region occurred near major rivers and communities designated as environmental justice areas (high-poverty and/or high minority population areas identified for protection from environmental and health hazards).

In fact, out of the 270 accidents examined, 211 occurred within 300 yards of a major river. 245 occurred within one mile of environmental justice areas – where about a third of the Pennsylvanians live.

22% of all accidents viewed in the study involved trains with some kind of hazardous materials cargo. As a result, emergency teams tend to prioritize human life over aquatic life found in the rivers. But while the initial response may protect the local population, long-term environmental effects such as drinking water and food contamination, can have disastrous impacts across the board.

Are your organization and employees located in an area potentially threatened by a train derailment? You can find out on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration site, and take steps to prepare.

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