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The Blue & Gray Press | March 24, 2018

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Letter to the Editor: Remove toxic waste from city

How would you like it if your dorm room sat right next to a rail car full of toxic chemicals? With only a strip of grass and some trees separating you from the railcars, how safe would you feel?

Fortunately, UMW does not have a train track running through it. However, this scenario is a reality for residents of Mayfield, a residential across the Blue and Gray Pkwy,, where the CSX Railroad Corporation is storing rail cars containing chlorine, liquid petroleum and ethanol on a privately owned rail yard.

Not only are residents of Mayfield just feet away from the tracks, the railroad lacks sufficient security leaving rail cars unprotected from tampering.

In addition, we lack an adequate emergency response plan. Chlorine, liquid petroleum and ethanol are extremely dangerous chemicals. If a rail car of liquid petroleum were to burst, it could suffocate any living thing in the area. Eventually, it could become a flammable mixture that, if ignited, would become a deadly fireball.

Likewise, ethanol is a highly flammable chemical. However, it cannot be extinguished with water. Ethanol fires must be extinguished with a careful application of alcohol-resistant foams, which fire departments may not have or firefighters may not know how to use.

Lastly, chlorine is not only a poison to humans, but is also explosive if it comes in contact with the right chemicals. A chlorine gas cloud can cover a 14-mile radius in thirty minutes.  This includes UMW’s campus.

Perhaps we aren’t as safe as we think.

Natalie Grossman is a senior.