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Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles February 23, 2023

Dilapidated train track is in years-old image and isn’t close to East Palestine derailment site

If Your Time is short

  • The image in the widespread photo is from a 6-year-old video that showed an old railway in Ohio. It had already been fixed by the time the Feb. 3 derailment happened in East Palestine. 

  • The Biden-Harris administration announced plans to help railway infrastructure in Ohio, including managing $4 billion to improve rail safety.

Social media users claimed the federal government is choosing to look toward Ukraine instead of fixing railways in Ohio, where a freight train carrying toxic chemicals went off the tracks.

"Chicks on the Right," a conservative podcast and live streaming duo, shared a screenshot of an image to their Facebook page Feb. 18. The image showed a train on a wonky, wobbly track. 

"This is what railways in Ohio look like while we send $40 billion to Ukraine," the text on screen reads. "Are you awake yet?"

This was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The choice of image leaves the wrong impression. It comes from a video posted six years ago, and it shows a track has since been fixed. 

News reports show that the video was first posted on YouTube in 2017. The track is in northwestern Ohio, nowhere near where the East Palestine accident took place. (East Palestine is in eastern Ohio, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border). The track in the photo was owned by the Maumee & Western Railroad Corp. before it changed hands in two company acquisitions. It’s now owned by Patriot Rail Co., which said in a 2022 video that the unstable line of tracks had been fixed. 

Featured Fact-check

 

Importantly, the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine was most likely caused by a mechanical problem on one of the train cars’ wheels, not a dilapidated railway. The National Transportation Safety Board said it would release an update on the cause Feb. 23.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is managing more than $4 billion in grant programs designed to improve rail safety and eliminate intersections where a railroad crosses a public road, the Biden administration said Feb. 17

The U.S. has spent $113 billion since 2022 to support Ukraine.

Our ruling

A Facebook post said a photo of a dilapidated railroad track shows "what railways in Ohio look like while we send $40 billion to Ukraine."

The image used in the post comes from a 6-year-old video, and that railway has since been fixed.

We rate this claim False.

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Dilapidated train track is in years-old image and isn’t close to East Palestine derailment site

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