The Norfolk Southern Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified East Palestine residents of exposure to vinyl chloride, a toxic chemical involved in the derailed train
The most toxic chemical involved in the derailed train is vinyl chloride, which can cause cancer, and it can also harm the brain, according to Maria Doa of the Environmental Defense Fund.
East Palestine residents were asked to leave out of caution. A large amount of black smoke was released as crews conducted a controlled release of hazardous chemicals.
The area was deemed safe following air and water sample results which resulted in the lifting of the evacuated area’s order.
Some business owners and East Palestine residents have filed lawsuits against Norfolk Southern, saying the company was negligent and demanding the company fund court-supervised medical screenings for serious illnesses that may be caused by exposure to those chemicals.
The Ohio National Guard and a Norfolk Southern contractor have worked with the EPA to check the air in East Palestine for certain compounds, as well as collecting air samples. There are over a dozen instruments in the Air Monitoring Results that state their screening level had not been exceeded.
The agency added that vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride have not been detected in the 291 homes that have been screened as of Monday. There are 181 homes left to be evaluated in the voluntary indoor air screening program.
Breathing or drinking vinyl chloride can cause a number of health risks including dizziness and headaches. People who breathe the chemical over many years may also experience liver damage.
When vinyl chloride is exposed in the environment, it breaks down from sunlight within a few days and changes into other chemicals such as formaldehyde. When it is spilled in soil or surface water, the chemical evaporates into the air quickly, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
The EPA has been watching phosgene and hydrogenchloride, which are released by burning vinyl chloride. Exposure to phosgene can cause eye irritation, dry burning throat and vomiting; while hydrogen chloride can irritate the skin, nose, eyes and throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Indoor air screening, dusting, and vacuuming: a message to East Palestine residents to take part in EPA’s air screening efforts
When we enter into a longer term phase, people are going to be worried about the long-term exposure that comes at lower levels.
She added that indoor spaces can be an important point of exposure, which is why she urges East Palestine residents to take part in EPA’s at-home air screening.
Dannemiller recommends residents to wipe down surfaces, especially areas that collect dust, and wash items that absorb smells, such as bed sheets and curtains. She also advises vacuuming carefully in short bursts to try to prevent contaminants from moving into the air.
One video shows “what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Tuesday.
The wheelset will be examined as part of the investigation. Investigators will return to complete an examination of the tank cars once they are fully decontaminated, the NTSB said.
Video from two local businesses reported by local media to show glowing or flames from a train before it derailed is one of the videos the National Safety THe is looking at.
If that’s correct, he said, “Congress needs to take a look at how these things are handled. We should know when we have trains carrying hazardous material that are going through the state of Ohio,” DeWine said.
There has been no vinyl chloride reported in any of the down-graded waterways near the train wreck, investigators said Tuesday.
Statewide Monitoring of the Ohio River Water Contamination After a Chemical Spike, as Deuterated by Drunken Streams and Rivers in August 2005
The governor’s office in Ohio said that, after test results from five wells that supplied the municipal system, it was determined that the water was safe to drink.
The governor said a chemical plume of butyl acrylate in the Ohio River is currently located near Gallipolis, Ohio, and will be near Huntington, West Virginia, sometime tomorrow. Testing results indicate that the chemical is currently well below a level the CDC considers hazardous, he said. Sampling of river water will continue after no vinyl chloride has been detected, he said.
The Ohio EPA has been tracking the chemicals in real time. Kavalec said that it was moving about a mile an hour.
The “tracking allows for potential closing of drinking water intakes to allow the majority of the chemicals to pass. This strategy, along with drinking water treatment…are both effective at addressing these contaminants and helps ensure the safety of the drinking water supplies,” Kavalec said, adding that they’re pretty confident that the “low levels” of contaminants that remain are not getting passed onto customers.
Still, authorities are strongly recommending that people in the area use bottled water for drinking, especially if their water is from a private source, such as a well.
The chemical spill took a severe toll on local aquatic life: About 3,500 fish ranging across 12 species died from the water contamination washing down streams and rivers.
The estimation of the dead fish came after initial testing and sampling by the state agency, Mertz said. The number of fish killed by the accident has not increased since the first couple of days.
Contaminants in the pits: Are spills and leaks really bothering? Northwest Ohio State Health Director Kurt Kollar
Kurt Kollar, the on-scene coordinating officer for the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response, said that some of the dirt pits were about 700 feet long and 8 feet deep.
The volatile organic compounds released by the controlled explosion can cause symptoms including headache, sore throat, and nose and eye irritation – which some East Palestine residents have complained of. The state health director of Ohio said air quality does not appear to be related to the deaths of animals near the train wreck.
“Anecdotes are challenging because they’re anecdotes,” Vanderhoff said. “Everything that we’ve gathered thus far is really pointing toward very low measurements, if at all.”
America’s railroads move a lot of chemicals. Freight trains moved 2.2 million carloads of chemicals in 2021, according to the Association of American Railroads.
“It’s the mode of transportation that’s capable of moving bulk quantities,” Federal Rail Administration spokesperson Warren Flatau told CNN. It’s not acceptable to move commodities by moving them by truck on the highways, which are not looked upon favorably.
Even though federal and industry statistics show that rail is a safer way to carry hazardous materials than truck or plane, spills and leaks still happen.
The real concern is the risk of a train accident, according to an expert at Northeastern University. “If natural gas were to have a derailment like the vinyl chloride, it would be devastating.”
The Ohio River Basin Contamination Spikes Off the Fermilab Rail Cars. Environmental Protection Agency Efforts on Detecting Poor Organic Compounds
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials have been conducting air, soil and water tests since the controlled explosion of the chemicals inside the rail cars.
Whelton told CNN the EPA should also continue to monitor semi-volatile organic compounds, which are more persistent and detected in local waterways after the derailment.
Whelton said that their size made them less likely to go in the air. They like to stick to soils. The question is, how contaminated is the creek and what will they do to remediate that?”
Anecdotal reports of pets and chickens dying have yet to be confirmed by officials. Mary Mertz, the director of Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources, said Tuesday that there’s no evidence that non-aquatic species have been affected by the spill.
The Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response said that crews have excavated and removed more than 500 yards ofvinylchloride-impacted material. The ditches around the contaminated dirt are being blocked by the EPA.
Kavalec thinks that water treatment facilities can remove the remaining low levels of volatile organic compounds in the water and that eventually water will be safe to drink.
Aerating and water treatment are two things officials say should break down the chemicals used in fires. Environmental officials need to also test for Peracetic acids, a class of chemicals used to put out chemical fires that is more dangerous than the one they say should break down.
The Red Cross: How the State of East Palestine is Trying to Educate and Protect the Children of a Child in a Critical Emergency Situation
An overwhelming stench of chlorine filled the air this week where Nathen Velez and his wife had been raising their two children, quickly burning his throat and eyes.
Representatives from Norfolk Southern, which operates the train, were going to attend Wednesday night’s meeting to provide information to residents on how they are responding to the chemical crisis. The company backed out due to threats.
The company said that it is increasingly concerned about the physical threat to employees and members of the community because of the increasing likelihood of participation of outside parties.
Company officials intended to join the community Wednesday evening to provide an update on the steps they were taking to clean up the accident site, and provide the latest results from ongoing water and air testing.
The community meeting was expected to go ahead on Wednesday evening, and residents had been invited to meet with the attorneys before the meeting to discuss the derailed train.
Since the derailment, many residents in East Palestine remain plagued with anxiety. Some, like Velez, are spending small fortunes to try to keep their families safely away from the place they used to call home.
My wife is a nurse and is not taking any chances at exposing us and our two young children to what is currently in our town. “The risk and anxiety of trying to live in our own home again is not worth it.”
The Ohio EPA Train Derailment East Palestine Resident Ben Ratner says the Challenges are Begrund to Estimate the Risks from the First Stages
The latest tests show that the drinking water in the village is free from contaminants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Testing for private water wells is recommended by the EPA because they are closer to the surface.
A spokesperson for the company said “some soil is moved around” during the initial response phase. The company is working to rehabilitate the site by removing soil, according to the company’s spokesman.
Cleanup and monitoring of the site could take years, Kurt Kohler of the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response said February 8, vowing that after the emergency response, “Ohio EPA is going to remain involved through our other divisions that oversee the long-term cleanup of these kinds of spill.” Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday that the EPA will do everything in its power to protect the community.
A document sent by Norfolk Southern to the EPA did not list soil removal as part of completed activities.
The contaminated soil will continue to leech contaminants both up into the air and down into the surrounding ground, according to an environmental health scientist. A lot of new contaminant will enter the water when it rains.
CNN asked Norfolk Southern if it had removed contaminated soil before reopening the rail line and if it had filled in areas of polluted soil to do so.
East Palestine resident Ben Ratner spoke with CNN this week about the risks that environmental officials are only beginning to assess.
Ben, who owns a cafe in a few towns, said that he and his brother are still experiencing a mix of emotions from the beginning.
Norfolk Southern will create a $1 million charity fund to support East Palestine, and how to protect yourself from chemical and biological contamination in the United States
He said it was hard to invest in something like that or even feel good about paying their mortgage when they might not be valuable in the future. It is difficult to come to grips with.
Norfolk Southern will create a $1 million charity fund to support East Palestine, it was announced Wednesday.
“We will be judged by our actions. Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a release that his company was cleaning up the site in a responsible way while working with the community to find ways to help East Palestine recover.
Velez and his family are temporarily staying in rentals away from the town. He previously told CNN that a chemical smell left him with burning eyes and throat, and a sore neck, when he visited the town.
“In terms of some of the symptoms of headache, et cetera, unfortunately volatile organic compounds share, with a host of other things, the ability to cause very common symptoms at the lower levels – so headache, eye irritation, nose irritation, et cetera,” he said. I think it’s time to look at the measured facts, because air sampling isn’t pointing toward an air source for this.
As to odor, residents “in the area and tens of miles away may smell odors coming from the site,” Ohio EPA spokesperson James Lee told CNN on Wednesday. “This is because some of the substances involved have a low odor threshold. This means people may smell these contaminants at levels much lower than what is considered hazardous.”
The Ratner Family and Their Home in East Prussia, Ohio, Concerned that Air and Water are Safe to Breather and that Transportation is Safe
The Ratner family is limiting its water use because of unknown affects, Ben Ratner said. Velez said on Facebook that turning the water on or giving his daughter a bath could potentially be dangerous.
He and his family have been Airbnb-hopping 30 minutes from their home since they evacuated, but rental options and their finances are running out, he said, and a friend set up a GoFundMe to help the family.
He wrote that many residents are stuck in the same situation and that there is no answer. There is no other option except to leave and pay the mortgage on the home.
The village of East Prussia, Ohio, was damaged by a freight train derailing and many residents are wondering if they are safe from toxic chemicals.
Hundreds of worried people gathered to hear state officials tell them — as they did earlier in the day — that testing so far has shown local air is safe to breathe and to promise that safety testing of the air and water would continue.
The residents wanted more transparency from the railroad operator, Norfolk Southern, which didn’t attend the gathering because of safety concerns for its staff.
The meeting came during continued concerns about the smoke, persisting odors, questions over potential threats to pets and wild animals, and what was happening with the clean up.
Investigating the East Palestine Derailment Resulted in a Trapped Heavy Chemical Train: An Environmental Defender’s Letter to the Governor of East Palestine
“Why are they keeping this secret?” Kathy Dyke said of the railroad. “They’re not out here supporting, they’re not out here answering questions. For three days we didn’t even know what was on the train.”
In and around East Palestine, near the Pennsylvania state line, residents said they wanted assistance navigating the financial help the railroad offered hundreds of families who evacuated, and they want to know whether it will be held responsible for what happened.
Yost said in a letter that the pollution caused harm to the environment and created a nuisance.
The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency traveled to East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday and said the agency plans to hold the train company Norfolk Southern accountable for its role in the derailment of a train carrying hazardous chemicals earlier this month.
The EPA has the authority to use its enforcement capabilities over the crisis, Administrator Michael S. Regan told CNN.
The company signed a document that said they would be responsible for cleaning it up, according to Regan. “But as this investigation continues, and as new facts arise, let me just say, and be very clear, I will use the full enforcement authority of this agency, and so will the federal government, to be sure that this company is held accountable.”
Despite the assurances, a chemical odor lingered days afterward and officials estimate thousands of fish were killed by contamination washing down streams and rivers, fueling residents’ concerns about water and air safety.
Hundreds of East Palestine residents attended a town hall Wednesday night to express their frustrations and mounting distrust. The train operator had agreed to attend, but later withdrew because of safety concerns.
The town was visited by Regan on Thursday and he saw some of the work that was being done after the train wreck. The state has the primary responsibility, but the EPA is prepared to partner and give resources.
Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Railroad Derailment. A statement on Tuesday (Monday, May 22)
Mike DeWine asked the CDC to immediately send medical experts to East Palestine to assess and counsel people with questions or health symptoms.
Emergency response teams have plans in place to prevent the removal of hazardous materials from the site if the weather gets bad, said DeWine in a statement.
DeWine said the Ohio Department of Agriculture continues to assure Ohioans that its food supply is safe and the risk to livestock remains low following the train derailment.
“There (were) two options: We either detonate those tanks, or they detonate themselves,” Mayor Trent Conaway told a group of reporters at Wednesday’s meeting. Chemicals entered the air. I am sorry, but that was the only option we had. If we didn’t do that, then they were going to blow up, and we were going to have shrapnel all across this town.”
Conaway told reporters that he needed help. “I have the village on my back, and I’ll do whatever it takes … to make this right. I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere.”
Jami Cozza: A toxicologist at a railroad hotel near a cross-section of the East Palestine creek, northeast of the Derailment
“I want the community to know that we hear you, we see you, and that we will get to the bottom of this,” Regan said. “We are testing for all volatile organic chemicals, we’re testing for everything. We’re testing for everything that was on that train. So we feel comfortable that we are casting a net wide enough to present a picture that will protect the community.”
Nate Velez, who said he lives less than half a mile from where the train derailed, told CNN on Wednesday night that the company’s absence from the meeting was “a slap in the face.”
Most people wanted to stay, but they had to do it. So, all the people who had to go home were complaining of smells, pains in their throat, headaches, sickness,” he said. “I have gone back a few times, and the smell does make you sick. It hurts your head.”
“I was extremely disappointed that they didn’t show up at the town hall meeting last night. The public deserves transparency,” he said. The public needs to have the most up to date information. And so it’s our job, as the federal government, to hold this company accountable, and I promise you we will.”
Jami Cozza’s family has lived in East Palestine for generations near the contaminated creek, but right now she is staying at a hotel paid for by the railroad due to toxicity from the derailment.
According to Cozza, the railroad company told her it was safe to come back home after air testing. However, she insisted the railroad company run soil and water tests, and only then did a toxicologist deem her house unsafe.
“Had I not used my voice, had I not thrown a fit, I would be sitting in that house right now, when they told me that it was safe,” Cozza said Thursday.
Where are the kids in East Palestine right now that are not safe? I’m afraid of the kids on the streets: Where are they and what do they need?
“My concern is how many of those kids are laying in their bed in East Palestine right now that are not safe,” she said. “I absolutely do not trust them.”