An industrial plant has suffered an explosion and a fire this Monday on the outskirts of Bedford (Ohio), southeast of Cleveland. The accident, whose causes are unknown, has caused a large smoke in the foundry, near the highway and has left at least 14 injured, most of them with burns, as reported by the emergency services.
The foundry that has burned belongs to the firm I Schumann & Co, a metallurgical company specializing in copper, brass and bronze alloys, according to explains the company on its website. A total of 13 people have been taken to the hospital, one of them in critical condition, while another injured person has been treated at the scene.
The damage caused by the explosion is significant both at the plant and outside, where the debris has been thrown and caused damage to the cars that were parked outside. Some nearby buildings have also been damaged.
The accident at the industrial plant on the outskirts of Bedford comes as concerns continue over the level of pollution in the town of East Palestine, also in Ohio, some 110 kilometers away to the southeast, where the derailment on February 3 a train loaded with dangerous goods, including vinyl chloride, which releases highly toxic substances when burned.
In this accident there were no victims, but the spillage of polluting substances caused the death of thousands of fish in a nearby river. The authorities evacuated the town after the derailment and the burning of part of the wagons and gave the inhabitants permission to return a few days later. Analyzes of air and water samples have not detected the presence of toxic substances, but distrust continues among residents, who fear a long-term impact on their health.
In addition, the accident has devalued properties in the area and damaged economic activity. There are numerous lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern, the company that owned the train that derailed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself has initiated legal action against the company to be responsible for the immediate cleanup and remediation costs and those that arise in the future as a result of the accident.
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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter on sunday to the company’s chief executive officer, Alan Shaw, warning him that the company must “demonstrate unequivocal support for the people” of East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding area. “Norfolk Southern must honor its commitment to compensate residents, and it must also honor its obligation to do whatever it takes to stop endangering communities like East Palestine,” Buttigieg wrote. “This is the right time for Norfolk Southern to take a leadership position within the rail industry, shifting to a stance that focuses on supporting, not thwarting, efforts to raise the bar for rail safety regulation in the United States. Joined”.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday that chemicals dumped into the Ohio River no longer pose a risk, though community residents report constant headaches and sore eyes. The state plans to open a medical clinic in the town of 4,700 to test for its symptoms, despite repeated claims that air and water tests have shown no signs of contaminants.
Rail freight traffic has already been restored in the area and some accuse Norfolk Southern of having opted to blow up and burn the wagons in order to clear the track sooner.
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