Letter: Ohio derailment raises local concern

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Feb. 3 train derailment in Ohio gave me pause. During the Obama administration, a new rail policy was enacted requiring modern braking systems on trains conveying hazardous material. Norfolk Southern fought that, and its lobbyists convinced the Trump administration to nix the regulation. (The brake system in use on trains today was invented in 1868. Technology has changed somewhat in the interim.)

What struck me is that the Silver-Line Plastics company on Riverside Drive manufactures a whole lot of PVC pipe — as in polyvinyl chloride. This means that Norfolk Southern is delivering trainloads of the stuff here in Asheville with trains utilizing that good old 1868 invention. I am not favorably impressed. While PVC pipe has conveyed most of our plumbing waste for decades, there are alternatives.

An incident like the Ohio disaster could wreck tourism, not to mention our everyday lives, for many years.

— Cecil Bothwell

Editor’s note: Xpress reached out to Silver-Line Plastics and Norfolk Southern Corp. for responses to the writer’s points. We did not hear back from Silver-Line but received a response from Norfolk Southern’s media relations department, which said in part: “The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is our No. 1 priority. We diligently monitor our trains and infrastructure to identify potential hazards, and we invest approximately a billion annually into maintaining our infrastructure every year.

“As a common carrier, Norfolk Southern is required by law to carry a variety of materials used by businesses to manufacture goods. Much of that material is also transported by trucks on the highway, the main difference being that rail cars can hold a much larger volume. Rail cars are built, maintained and inspected to standards set by the Association of American Railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration. These standards are built on many years of research and continued refinement to rail car designs with safety in mind.

“Incidents involving hazardous material spills are extremely rare, but we are prepared for them. … The AAR has additional insight here: [avl.mx/cho].”


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3 thoughts on “Letter: Ohio derailment raises local concern

  1. Mike

    Never fear Cecil!

    If you drive by Silverline you will see a string of covered hopper cars of the same general form as those that carry powdered cement. Furthermore, a quick google search (as recommended by Don Lemon yields: “Basically, PVC products are formed from raw PVC powder by a process of heat and pressure. The two major processes used in manufacture are extrusion for pipe and injection moulding for fittings.”

    Therefore, I conclude silverline uses PVC powder created elsewhere and not the gaseous or liquid precursors carried in tank cars as was the case in East Palestine, OH

    • indy499

      Ex council Bothwell has never allowed facts to dissuade his latest “pause”.

      • T100

        True … but compared to the current council old Cecil seems pretty sane. He was voted out because of his “ill-advised” defense of private property owners to use their property as they wished instead of how the rich cognescenti thought was best to preserve the value of their own properties.

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