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Stuff happens, right?
I mean, who could’ve thought that in these modern times of digital monitoring of everything, something as massive as a freight train could become a toxic fireball rolling undetected and unslowed into an Ohio town? But a Norfolk Southern train did just that, derailing in East Palestine and contaminating the air, water, land, and families with tons of cancer-causing chemicals. Gosh exclaimed Norfolk Southern’s CEO; gosh exclaimed the Ohio Governor; gosh exclaimed the US transportation chief; gosh exclaimed the GOP chair of the rail transportation committee – this is a terrible, unexpected accident, and we’re all appalled by it!
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Only… all of these officials knew full-well that this disaster would happen (though they didn’t know exactly where). Indeed, far from unexpected, there are more than 1,000 preventable train derailments in the US every year (Norfolk Southern had another only days after the one in Ohio). And these things don’t just happen – they are causedby the profiteering greed of the monopolistic industry’s top executives and rich investors.
While Norfolk’s boardroom elites have been pocketing record profits in recent years, they’ve used armies of lobbyists and multimillion-dollar political donations to kill safety protections that would prevent such a disastrous record. To cut costs and jack-up profits, railroad bosses have rigged the rules to run trains that are absurdly long, go too fast, carry ever-heavier loads of undisclosed toxics in weak tanker cars, have no fire detectors, use outmoded braking systems – and have as few as one crew member on board. One!
This is Jim Hightower saying… Norfolk’s derailed train was made to derail. It pulled 149 cars, stretching nearly two miles down the track, and it was unequipped to detect fires and other problems. This disaster was not an “accident” – it (and those that will come next) was mandated by the corporate and government officials now professing outrage.