The Ohio Train Disaster: We Must Protect Human Life and the Planet from Corporate Greed
The East Palestine Ohio Train Catastrophe is an All-Too-Familiar Cautionary Tale
Corporations and their political allies don’t give a damn about working-class lives and communities. They oppose any protections that interfere with their profits. The only way to defeat them is to build a political movement 100% committed to the people and the planet.
The results of the East Palestine Ohio train wreck are an unmitigated tragedy: poisoned air, land, and water; shattered communities; devastated lives. And it never should have happened.
Railroad unions and workers have been calling for greater safety measures for years—most relevantly in this case, for upgraded braking systems on trains carrying toxic chemicals. President Obama heeded their call and took Executive Action in 2015, but President Trump fulfilled the wishes of the railroad companies and annulled the Executive Order in 2017. After the 2020 election, unions pressed the Biden Administration to renew Obama’s Executive Order to no avail.
When asked if the better braking technology would have reduced the severity of the Ohio accident, Steven Ditmeyer, a former senior official at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said, “Yes.”’ (The Lever, Feb. 10, 2023, “There Will Be More Derailments”).
Politically, the lesson here is simple. As progressives, we have to insist that all the politicians we endorse prioritize the lives of poor and working-class people, their communities, and their surrounding environment. This means standing up to and opposing all corporate lobbying that tries to weaken and eliminate regulations. No exceptions. Full stop.
PDA will always stand for these principles and for all working-class communities. Join us by donating and/or volunteering.
Thanks so much for anything you can do.
Alan Minsky for the PDA National Team
And it’s not just the communities – corporate failures to act kills workers even when the surrounding community is not directly harmed. These explosions/collapses/fires/chemical leaks are no “accidents” – they are the direct result of a failure to implement safety programs, failure to carry out preventative maintenance on a timely schedule, failure to adequately train workers, and the list goes on. The federal Chemical Safety Board (CSB) incident investigations (https://www.csb.gov/investigations/) and videos (https://www.csb.gov/videos/) show just how poorly industry does at identifying and implementing best practices.