People living in and near East Palestine, Ohio have been suffering with more than two weeks of uncertainty after a train derailed there, releasing toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride. This week, officials opened a clinic for concerned residents, many of whom have complained of health symptoms in the aftermath of the spill. The disaster has ignited a national interest in disaster management and response, including in railroad safety in transporting hazardous materials.
Train derailments are surprisingly common—more than 1,000 trains derailed just last year—and some of them have resulted in serious ecological and public health disasters. Here’s a look back at some of the most serious environmental accidents due to train derailments in recent U.S. history.