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Murder, The Media and the Ten Commandments

Bob Barney Podcast: The Problem with the media coverage of the Train Derailment in Ohio

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The Big Spill

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Hi Bob Barney here

I guess if you were like everyone else you’ve heard all about the reports coming out of Ohio East Palestine with a Norfolk Southern locomotive, pulling a whole load of that heavy duty chemicals, I guess liquid chemicals came off the track and a bunch railroad cars fell off into a ravine, split open and spilled out their cargo which contain some volatile substances like n butyl acetate and vinyl chloride. 

Several years back when he was alive, Rush Limbaugh made famous the term “drive-by media” into a household name.  Fox News has really done everything they could in the last two weeks to live up to that media name that Limbaugh gave to the media, way back then.


What Limbaugh meant by “drive-by media” is simply that the media looking for a story, finds something maybe insignificant, or anything else that they want to blow up for a few days so they can have some news. Usually, it’s not as important as they make it out to be. That’s the hype-- but it’s a story that they’re going to really build up to make it look so important, for two or three days, and then later they decide to go and find a new story to go after- another “drive-by media” event.


He got that term from the 1930s gangster movies, with  gangsters that would drive by a club or a crowd of people and a bunch of the gangsters in the car would machine gun the crowd or the building and cause mayhem, and then drive off and never be seen again!


Limbaugh likened the media, doing the same thing.  Making up stories, bolstering them up and then going on, and never covering it again. Anyone who is very familiar with the chemical industry as I am and I have spent my last 43 years of my life and I run a company that manufactures automotive, marine and industrial paint so I am familiar with many of the chemicals one being called N-Butyl Acetate, a solvent, which is found in practically everything you can imagine, including food, and another call vinyl chloride. 


I’m not gonna lie and say these products are not dangerous because they are. However, their dangers are usually overstated when inspectors come to small companies like mine and understated when they come to large companies like Norfolk Southern are the big chemical companies.  N Butyl Acetate for example, is a Solvent used in healthcare products, and which are so used in food.


I have a picture of a drum that was sent to me from a company entitled “toluene Kosher”… Toluene is a solvent, supposedly a dangerous solvent, yet it said on the label toluene kosher —-kosher is the Jewish word for what they used to inspect their food.  So obviously, toluene is found in food supply. 


I remember when my brother who worked for the Nestlé company for his entire career now retired, would be helping me make paint in our paint plant and we would be using a product for example, titanium dioxide which is white pigment, and we would be pouring titanium dioxide in paint and he would say  “oh we use titanium dioxide to make  food look white.” Or we would be putting in carbon black and he would say, “we use carbon black, food grade, of course”.  It seemed Like every product we used in making paint was also used in making food!  The stuff I put in paint my brother would tell me was put in food!


So, as you can see when it comes to the big companies, the dangers of these products that spilled out of the train are understated but when it comes to small companies like ours, the dangers of these products are usually overstated .


The biggest problem I think is that the media has found wrong with Norfolk Southern is that they decided to burn off the Solvents and the vinyl chloride.


To me, knowing what I know of the industry, it was probably the smartest and safest way to get rid of the tons of Solvents and the vinyl chloride, which was laying on the ground. You do not want it to seep into the ground because if does sink into the ground, it could get to well water, which is usually quite deep, rather than just rivers.  And burning off the product was the right thing to do, regardless of what Fox News tells you.


The second thing is, I saw the fire and I saw the smoke. It was 10 miles from town, and I do not believe that amount of smoke from that fire would’ve caused the health problems that we are being told that it caused. 


And I’ve been around like I said, for years and I don’t believe it!  


You know a 1000 trains derail a year in America, and unless you read the Plain Truth message board, which we have been covering train derailments for several years, you probably do not realize how many train accidents there are. On average 3 to 4 railroad train cars derail every single day in America. The truth is our infrastructure in this country sucks.


If anybody rides Amtrak like I do a lot, and by the way,  Amtrak does not on their own rail, they just rent rail from the big giants like Norfolk Southern, CSX and Union Pacific,  anyone riding Amtrak will tell you how bad the rail system is in America.


There are times when my wife and I are traveling to our Florida location, when we actually think in the middle the night that we are running down a dirt road and ran off the rail!


The Biden administration just gave tens of billions of dollars for the infrastructure of Ukraine, but not for the infrastructure of American rail. He gave him $10 billion for infrastructure to Ukraine just last week.  Yet, the total budget for Amtrak is a paltry 2 billion a year -----think about that for a minute. 


You know, we spend billions and billions of dollars on highways yet yet 90% of the food you eat and the products you buy, from a store came to you by rail!  That’s the truth and it’s the last thing our politicians think we need to invest in.  And I think if we are going to try to avoid these accidents, we’re going to have to think something about fixing our infrastructure. 


My problem with the story is not that the EPA or health officials in the area are under playing the incident, because they’re actually being quite honest, even though Fox News and the majority of you listening to me do not want to believe that they’re being honest,  my problem is when a small company like mine has a minor spill. It’s like the end of the world!  You’re accused of polluting the entire town, you’re accused of putting peoples life in jeopardy.  They try everything they can do to shut your plant down and put your people out of work.  They try to almost criminally charge you for anything you do, but when it’s a big company then all of a sudden, but they told you no longer applies to them.


That’s my biggest problem in my opinion,  small businesses like ours, and for small business people listening to me out there and for the average middle of the road American trying to make a buck every day and survive, here’s what will be the result of this ….Legislation!


I will almost guarantee, small businesses like myself,  will not be able to comply. The big companies will go on polluting, they will still go on carrying 200 rail cars, when I should probably only be carrying 60 on a train, to continue more and more they may use these drive-by events to target little guys like myself, and other people like me to put us out of business.  The truth is big companies can’t compete as well as the smaller ones,  so they have the government try to put us out of business. Today is an overreaction that is done on purpose that large corporations are in every bit agreement with.


I don’t think you’re going to hear that from too many people like you did for me today-- but that’s what I think and what I think is the The Plain for me.


Thank you for listening.