Petrochemical incidents aren’t always as visible as the East Palestine train derailment, but at least 322 happened last year.

by Emily Atkin, Heated

Climate policy obstructionists love to evangelize about the benefits of petrochemicals.

Last year, in commercials and Congressional hearings alike, the fossil fuel industry and its political allies upped their messaging around the chemical byproducts of oil and gas, calling petrochemicals “essential to life,” and warning it would be dangerous to phase them out or transition to greener alternatives.

What proponents consistently did not mention, however, was that petrochemicals were leaking, exploding, and catching fire all over the country last year, causing disastrous consequences multiple times per week.

smoke from ohio chemical train derailment

There were at least 322 hazardous chemical incidents in the U.S. in 2023, according to the Chemical Incident Tracker, a database of media-reported accidental chemical releases compiled by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters. That’s around a 70 percent increase in media-reported chemical incidents since 2022, when the coalition recorded only 189 disasters.

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