GRANITEVILLE, S.C. (WJBF) — A fiery train derailment in Ohio brings back memories of a CSRA train crash nearly 20 years ago.
“You know, I’ve seen many pictures, and I’m thinking another one,” Robert Wise told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Wise was in his home — yards from the scene of the Graniteville train crash. “15 years difference. It seemed like they are not on top of things. Their technology should be higher,” he said.
Nine people died from chlorine exposure. Hundreds were injured.
“It’s like we quit breathing for five, six minutes untill we got outta town. We just held our breath and ran because you were so scared you didn’t know anything else to do,” Wise said. “It was time to run,” he added.
In early February, a train owned by the same company, Norfolk Southern, derailed — spilling chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. Soil, water, and air were affected there. No one died.
“If I was up there, I would want to leave and not come back if I saw that big black cloud burning and knowing my kids had to breathe that air coming down,” he shared.
The communities were evacuated and then allowed to return. “Everybody said the same thing they said in Ohio, ‘the government’s gonna come in and test everything, say everything’s okay, y’all come back, everything’s normal. And it really isn’t. So that’s what we’ve always been afraid of,” Wise said.
People in both places reported rashes, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
“We got one boy that passed away, one of the dead, Mr. Mathis great guy. He was out riding around when it wrecked that night. And we knew later on he was going to have health issues,” he added.
Norfolk Southern was sued in both cases.
“We’ve got the settlement. $8,000 for being outta your house. Two weeks, $8,000. A few meals. They put an air conditioner in your house. That’s what most people got, six or $8,000. If they got that much, a lot of ’em only got $2,000,” Wise shared.