GB No. 2, summer 1990
What is chlorine? - it does not have to be explained to anyone. This yellow green gas is a serious threat to our respiratory system. We all know the use of it during World War I. However, not many of us realize that, according to international treaties, trains full of chlorine cross the northern Poland on their way from the Soviet Union and East Germany. Last year 40,000 tons of chlorine was transported through our country - with the keep of that chemical element the whole Atlantic Ocean could be purified. What is more, the use to which that chlorine is used are kept secret.
The tragedy could have happened on March 8, 1989. At night the train jumped off the gauge and 5 containers (wagons), each containing 50 tons of clear chlorine. Fortunately the five did not break down. If that had happened, the big city of Białystok (250,000 inhabitants) would have been comparable to Hiroshima. Besides, it has to be mentioned that all regulations concerning the transportation of such dangerous substances were broken and simply ignored.
The accident caused the strong protest of the public opinion - 22,338 people signed the petition to the Polish Seym. As the result of the lack of reactions from the authorities, the trial against railway officials who ignored people's safety, began at the local court of Białystok. After the series of difficulties lasting over six mouths, railway authorities were recognized guilty. The practice of "fatal transport" was ceased, hopefully for a few years.
Zofia T. Domaniewska