Chemical Disasters are not Unstoppable

by John Deans

November 12, 2010

JohnLike explosions?
Like to squirm in suspense?
Like loud engine sounds?
Like witty quips?
Ever heard that dangerous chemical rail cars roll through neighborhoods around the country?

Well, you might just need to go see Unstoppable, a new action movie out on today, Friday Nov 12th. I got a sneak peak this past weekend, and I’ll admit, cheesy as the trailer might seem, it’s full of suspense and action and at points the whole audience was applauding during moments of heroism. It stars Denzel Washington (Training Day) as a veteran engineer and Chris Pine (Star Trek) as a rookie on his first day as a conductor. Rosario Dawson (Kids, Sin City) is the woman in charge of trying to avoid a deadly train accident. A train carrying toxic chemicals gets loose on the tracks and is headed for disaster that could kill thousands of people. As Dawson’s character (Connie) says, the train laden with Toxic chemicals is a “missile, the size of the Chrystler Building!”

What’s amazing to us here at Greenpeace, is to see a blockbuster movie depicting EXACTLY the situation we, and over a hundred other organizations, are trying to stop! Rail cars are hurtling through communities around the country carrying TIH, or “toxic inhalation hazard” chemicals that could spread a poison gas cloud for miles, killing and injuring thousands of people. This story is based on a true incident, but is not isolated. All over the country there have been rail car accidents releasing Chlorine gas, a substance 15 times more likely to be found riding the rails, and several of these have resulted in deaths.

This movie would never have a plot if Railroad companies were not forced to carry these toxic chemicals by the chemical industry. They don’t even want to carry them, and have told the chemical industry to find alternatives. They have even said that if the industry doesn’t switch to safer alternatives on their own, Congress should make them. We agree. Congress still has a chance before the end of the session to pass comprehensive chemical security legislation. How many more near-catastrophes do we need to have before we get action that could eliminate these risks to the 1 in 3 Americans now living with the threat of a poison gas disaster.

Please, tell Congress to do its job, and protect our country from chemical disaster.

P.S. And enjoy the movie!

John Deans

By John Deans

As a former Arctic Campaigner, John worked with lawmakers, coalition partners, activists, and the media in Greenpeace's efforts to protect the Arctic from the dangers of industrial activity.

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