Welcome back after a long holiday weekend (for those in the U.S. at least). As you sort your way through emails and messages, I wanted to make sure you didn't miss this story from PN's Frank Esposito on the National Traffic Safety Board hearings in East Palestine, Ohio, last month covering the February derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train.
Frank's story focused on the dispute between Oxy Vinyls LP — whose vinyl chloride monomer, a PVC feedstock, was burned off at the derailment site — and emergency and rail officials who decided the best option was to release it following the derailment.
At the time, officials on the ground said the release was to prevent a possible explosion by the overheated material. But Oxy officials maintain that they told the emergency responders that the VCM wasn't at risk.
"We did not participate in or recommend the decision on the burnoff," Paul Thomas, vice president of health, environment, safety and security with Dallas-based Oxy, told the hearing.
Frank also spoke with one of the families impacted by the derailment and VCM release.
Jessica Conard is a lifelong resident of East Palestine who lives there with her husband and three sons. Their home is about 2 miles from the derailment site. Since the derailment, one her sons has been diagnosed with asthma and she's seen friends with a variety of medical issues.
Conard points to a "patchwork" response from the railroad and government officials for the continuing confusion on the ground from people who live there.
"I never thought I'd be a self-taught expert on the polymerization of vinyl chloride," she told Frank.