Published On: Mon, Mar 27th, 2023


Disasters are etched in our memories and well they should for if we don’t learn from them, we’re doomed to have them repeat.  Writing with fiery passion about the Norfolk Southern Crash, Elizabeth Nickson pulls no punches when she asks if it was the result of incompetence. 

She sees the disastrous train derailment that spread the vinyl chloride that can turn into deadly dioxin when ignited stemming from the same incompetence that’s perpetuating itself in a stream of environmental blueprints.

“Consider that those are the people who will be ‘reimagining’ transportation, people so hapless that they cannot contain the most toxic chemical man has ever created,” she writes with deserving frustration afire with anger. 

She cites concerns about food production in the region after the Norfolk Southern crash, not to mention the anguish in the village of East Palestine, Ohio. There people were developing all manner of symptoms leading to The EPA finally demanding the railroad test for toxic dioxin.

On its website, the agency warns that even a small amount dioxin released from backyard burning of vinyl chloride is dangerous.  Could that be the understatement of the year? 

The Norfolk Southern railroad was carrying vinyl chloride which when ignited, turns into dioxin, “the great-grandmother of all toxins” she writes.   Within days, it spread across the 75,000 family farms of Ohio, across the Nebraska wheat fields into the underground aquifers. Nickson reports, it has killed, so far, 45,000 fish. “Birds fell out of the sky, and most think that anyone pregnant in the vicinity is at extreme risk. The fire released the largest plume of dioxin in history.” 

In January, the Biden administration released a ‘blueprint’ for the decarbonization of the transportation sector as transportation issues more carbon dioxide than any other sector, so it must be contained.

Nickson calls the language in environmental blueprints “usually vague and faux-compassionate” citing as example this announcement about “accelerating the transition to a clean transportation future.” 

According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan:

“Under the leadership of President Biden, EPA is working with our federal partners to aggressively reduce pollution.

“At EPA, our priority is to protect public health, especially in overburdened communities, while advancing the President’s ambitious climate agenda. This Blueprint is a step forward in delivering on those goals and accelerating the transition to a clean transportation future.”

So, one wonders how many more times will we see clean turn deadly due to—here’s that trigger word again–incompetence?

Author and PR strategist Tom Madden at TransMedia Group wonders too how rampant incompetence runs among those in charge of transporting potentially dangerous chemicals after several more accidents have occurred on the rails, which he fears may be precursors of a more serious calamity.

About the Author

- Sharing timely, newsworthy weekly blogs by the one and only Thomas J. Madden at and other newsworthy topics from his mighty PR firm TransMedia Group.

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