On the outskirts of Bedford (Ohio), southeast of Cleveland, there was an explosion and a fire at an industrial plant on Monday, according to local media reports and witnesses on social networks. The accident, the causes of which are unknown, caused a lot of smoke in the factory near the highway. Authorities have not yet reported the existence of any casualties, but local media reports that workers have been taken to hospital with burns.
The burned factory belongs to I Schumann & Co, a metallurgical company specializing in copper, brass and bronze alloys, the company says on its website. The fire brigade in neighboring Twinsburg has reported a major fire. At least one person was flown to the hospital with burns, according to Cleveland’s Channel 19. A total of 13 people were taken to hospital, one in critical condition, according to Fox8.
The accident at the industrial plant on the outskirts of Bedford comes as concerns continue about the level of contamination in the city of East Palestine, also in Ohio, where on February 3 a train carrying dangerous goods derailed, including vinyl chloride, which burned releases highly toxic substances.
There were no casualties in this accident, but spillage of pollutants caused the deaths of thousands of fish in a nearby river. The authorities evacuated the city after the derailment and the burning of part of the wagons and a few days later gave the residents permission to return. Analyzes of air and water samples have not revealed the presence of toxic substances, but suspicion persists among local residents, fearing long-term damage to their health.
In addition, the accident devalued real estate in the area and damaged economic activity. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Norfolk Southern, the company that owned the derailed train. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself has taken legal action against the company to pay immediate and future clean-up and remediation costs as a result of the accident.
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Transport 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 meet its obligation to compensate residents, and it must also meet 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 railroad industry and shift to a stance focused on supporting efforts to raise the bar on rail safety regulation in the United States, not to thwart.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday that chemicals dumped in 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 city of 4,700 to test for its symptoms, despite repeated claims that air and water tests have shown no signs of contamination.
Rail freight has already been restored to the area, and some are accusing Norfolk Southern of having blown up and burned the wagons to free up the tracks sooner.
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