Are Texas communities vulnerable to an environmental contamination like the East Palestine train derailment?
The answer is yes.
The East Palestine accident involved 38 rail cars and spilled nearly 116,000 gallons of vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals. 5,000 local residents had to be evacuated from their homes, and cleanup crews spent three days burning off the toxins in what they called a “controlled release.”
Three weeks later, many local residents continue to complain of headaches, rashes, sore throats, and other health problems.
The survivors of a 2012 toxic train derailment in New Jersey have warned that more serious health issues could emerge years later and urged East Palestine residents to seek legal advice.
Texas is just as vulnerable to accidents like these, if not more so.
Federal data show that U.S freight trains have derailed and spilled hazardous materials 106 times since 2015. According to information compiled by the American Association of Railroads (AAR), those trains travel more miles in Texas every year than in any other state—and 47 rail companies operate here, more than anywhere else.
Train derailments and other environmental accidents already occur within the state at a frightening pace:
- A Union Pacific train carrying hazardous materials collided with an 18-wheeler in the community of Splendora on February 13 of this year, just days after the East Palestine accident. The collision involved more than 20 rail cars and released diesel gasoline and oil.
- Another collision between a freight train and a truck occurred near Austin in November 2022. Fortunately, the train was carrying gravel rather than toxic chemicals.
- A chemical tank farm in the community of Deer Park caught fire in March 2019 and burned for four days before being extinguished.
- In April 2015, a Burlington-Northern Santa Fe train carrying highly flammable liquefied petroleum gas derailed in Longview. None of the gas spilled, but the accident closed roads for over a week and left lasting damage to the railroad crossing.
For residents of the Houston area, the Splendora and Deer Park accidents were the latest reminders that a more serious environmental catastrophe may be just around the bend. The capital of the global energy industry, Houston and its satellite communities host some of the largest refineries in the world, and hazardous chemicals are stored, transported, and released in the area every day.
Have you witnessed an environmental contamination or accident in Texas? Do you believe you or a loved one has been harmed by exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazardous substances? If so, contact the Roach Law Firm today. Our environmental litigation lawyers have a long record of victories in environmental cases involving some of the largest companies in the world:
- $119 million recovered for roughly 7,000 Oklahoma residents impacted by lead, arsenic, and zinc contamination caused by Phelps Dodge Corporation
- $90 million recovered for workers exposed to silica and asbestos at the Lone Star Steel Mill
- $47 million recovered for workers exposed to rubber products at the Red River Army Depot
Heavy industries and the transportation networks that serve them create jobs for Texans, but they also pose significant risks to public health and safety. You may not be able to stop an environmental accident from happening—but make sure to take the necessary steps to protect yourself, your family, and your property after one occurs.