2023 Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio
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2023 Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio refers to a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, derailing and exploding in the village of East Palestine, Ohio in early February 2023. Due to some perceiving that there was a lack of news coverage regarding the incident, it became a subject of conspiracy theories revolved around speculation that Norfolk Southern and the United States government were downplaying its scale and potential damage to the environment. Alongside these, some also claimed the recent UFO sightings in North America around this time were attempts to distract people from the disaster.
On February 3rd, 2023, a 150-car Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed and crashed on the outer edge of the village of East Palestine in Ohio. In total, 20 of the 141 cars were classified as carrying hazardous materials, 14 of which carried vinyl chloride. Upon derailment, a chemical fire began as combustible liquids spilled.
On February 3rd, the earliest eyewitness videos of the incident were shared on social media (shown below).
🚨#BREAKING: Train derailment sparks massive explosion⁰⁰📌#EastPalestine | #Ohio
Currently, multiple emergency crews are responding to reports of a major fire caused by a tanker train derailment leading to multiple explosions. All residents nearby are now being evacuated pic.twitter.com/LUWqegoQnn
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) February 4, 2023
On February 5th, 2023, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued an urgent evacuation notice for residents living within a mile of the train derailment site.
On February 6th, emergency crews conducted a "controlled release and burn" of toxic chemicals to prevent a possible explosion. The burn released phosgene, a toxic colorless gas, and hydrogen chloride, which forms hydrochloric acid upon contact with water, into the atmosphere.
On February 9th, the evacuation order was lifted following the U.S. EPA reporting that the air inside and outside the evacuation zone was back to normal levels.
In the days following the incident, users on social media, primarily Twitter and TikTok, made posts claiming that their pets and livestock have experienced sickness or died. Video footage showing dead fish in creeks, reportedly filmed within the several-mile vicinity from East Palestine, also surfaced on TikTok. For example, on February 7th, 2023, TikToker lukeglavan posted one such video (shown below, left), which gained over 89,000 views and 72,600 likes in one week. On February 9th, TikToker @taycallidryas posted footage of a stream taken on February 7th that gained over 122,200 views and 11,500 likes in four days (shown below, right).
Arrest of NewsNation Reporter
On February 8th, 2023, NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was approached by two Ohio state troopers over being "loud" during his live report behind the press conference of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Following a confrontation between Lambert and one of the troopers, the former was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. Lambert was released later that day.
On February 8th, TikToker @j_millertv posted footage of the arrest, with the video gaining over 62,400 views and 2,200 likes. On February 9th, Twitter user @Imposter_Edits shared the video, with the post gaining over 980,000 views, 2,300 retweets and 5,800 likes (shown below).
He was trying report on the massive chemical spill in east Palestine Ohio where the train derailment happened… pic.twitter.com/y2jbnw4L2l
— 🥀_Imposter_🕸️ (@Imposter_Edits) February 9, 2023
The perceived lack of news coverage of the incident, combined with multiple other factors such as viral photographs of the fires, social media reports of hazardous gases being released into the atmosphere and soil, perceivably quick lifting of the evacuation orders, and reports of animals becoming sick and dying in the vicinity of the incident area, have led to claims that both Norfolk Southern and the U.S. government were downplaying the scale and potential environmental damage of the Ohio incident.
On February 9th, 2023, Twitter user @LolOverruled tweeted about his suspicions that the accident was "10,000 times worse than whatever they're saying," with the tweet gaining over 13,500 retweets and 73,900 likes in four days (shown below, left). Also on February 9th, Twitter user @heckmanatee dubbed the incident "Chernobyl Lite," with the tweet garnering over 18,500 retweets and 103,400 likes in four days, and with more viral posts comparing the incident to the Chernobyl Disaster appearing on social media in the following days.
Claims that the UFOs spotted over Alaska and Lake Huron in the days following the incident were a "red herring" meant to distract the public eye from the Ohio incidents were maid on social media. For example, on February 12th, journalist Will Tanner made such a claim, with the tweet gaining over 10,800 retweets and 29,000 likes in one day (shown below).
The incident has also been the subject of memes on Twitter and other social media. For example, on February 12th, 2023, Twitter user @AltHistoryHub posted a video caption meme that gained over 48,000 views, 490 retweets and 6,100 likes in one day (shown below).
— Cody (@AltHistoryHub) February 12, 2023
 Wikipedia – 2023 Ohio train derailment
 Twitter – @rawsalerts
 Twitter – @GovMikeDeWine
 Twitter – @1followernodad
 New York Post – Animals falling sick, dying near hellish Ohio train derailment site
 TikTok – @@lukeglavan
 TikTok – @@taycallidryas777
 TikTok – @@j_millertv
 Twitter – @Imposter_Edits
 Twitter – @LolOverruled
 Twitter – @heckmanatee
 Twitter – @Will_Tanner_1
 Twitter – @AltHistoryHub
Chris the Lovable Jerk
Feb 13, 2023 at 12:19PM EST
Feb 13, 2023 at 10:31AM EST
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