On the evacuation of East Palestine and neighboring counties following a train derailed near Pennsylvania’s state line, according to a fire chief
Five days after a train derailed near the Pennsylvania state line, the evacuated residents can return to East Palestine, according to the fire chief.
Those just outside the evacuation zone in East Palestine and in neighboring Beaver County, Pennsylvania, had been urged to stay indoors as a precaution. The officials in neighboring counties said the air samples did not show any worrisome levels.
James Justice of the US Environmental Protection Agency said there have been normal levels of air monitoring. Hundreds of data points from that “show that the air quality in the town is safe,” he said.
He reiterated that there was a robust air monitoring system in place and data from that showed nothing at a level that would be cause for health concern. Monitors did detect toxins in the air during the controlled burn at the derailment site, but other samples outside that area did not.
The February 3 incident caused a massive fire and prompted officials to evacuate hundreds of people who lived near the site because of fears that a hazardous, highly flammable material might ignite. Black smoke was released from the toxic vinyl chloride gas that was burned to prevent a potentially deadly explosion.
Indoor air screening program in East Palestine after a rail collision: Class action against Norfolk Southern and hazardous materials in an evacuated area of East Palestine
The commander of the Ohio National Guard previously said that members wearing protective gear would take readings inside homes, basements and businesses as officials aimed to ensure the air was safe before lifting the evacuation order.
The crash happened on the edge of East Palestine, as a group of cars carrying hazardous materials went off the road. There is a mechanical issue with a rail caraxle that has been determined by federal investigators.
At least one lawsuit has been filed over the derailment. An East Palestine business owner and two other residents sued the rail operator in federal court on Tuesday, alleging negligence by Norfolk Southern and exposure to toxic substances as a result. They’re seeking to make it a class-action case for residents and businesses in the evacuated area and people who were physically harmed because of spilled chemicals at the site.
A Norfolk Southern train derailed in Ohio and caused a days-long fire in the area. There were 10 of the 50 cars that were derailed that contained hazardous chemicals that authorities feared could cause a major explosion.
The evacuation order was lifted on Wednesday and since then, there have been a growing number of reports about people experiencing a burning sensation in their eyes, animals falling ill and a strong odor lingering in the town.
The Environmental Protection Agency, which has been monitoring the air quality, said it has not detected “any levels of concern” in East Palestine as of Sunday.
The agency stated that vinyl Chloride and hydrogen chloride have not been detected in all of the homes that have been screened. The indoor air screening program has 181 homes left to evaluate.
Of particular concern is the vinyl chloride, which was loaded on five cars — a carcinogen that becomes a gas at room temperature. It’s made into a kind of plastic used for pipes, wire and cable, and car parts.
Other chemicals of concern at the site include phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are released when vinyl chloride breaks down; butyl acrylate; ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate; and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. All these chemicals can change, if they react with other things in the environment or if they break down.
The EPA has been monitoring for several other hazardous chemicals, including phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are released by burning vinyl chloride. Exposure to phosgene can cause eye irritation, dry burning throat and vomiting, and hydrogen chloride can cause skin eruptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At-Home Air Screening and Safety Testing of the Air and Water: Reply to Norfolk Southern During an Open House on Wednesday, March 27
Karen Dannemiller is a professor at The Ohio State University who studies indoor air quality and says people will be concerned about 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.
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.
Norfolk Southern didn’t attend the event due to safety concerns, but residents had many questions and demanded more transparency from the railroad operator.
In a statement, Norfolk Southern said it was not attending Wednesday’s open house gathering with local, state and federal officials because of a “growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event.”
There were questions over potential threats to pets and wild animals, the smell of smoke, and any potential impact on drinking water at the meeting.
Why are the railroad officials keeping it quiet? A village resident asks residents of East Palestine what happened when the train went off the Pennsylvania state line
Why are they keeping it quiet? Kathy Dyke said of the railroad. They’re not here to answer questions and they’re not here to support. For three days we didn’t even know what was on the train.”
The residents of East Palestine near the Pennsylvania state line want to know if the railroad will be held responsible for what happened when hundreds of families evacuated.
In a letter to the company, Yost said that the pollution had created a nuisance, damage to natural resources and caused environmental harm.
The latest testing by the EPA show that the water from the wells that are supplied to the village is contaminant free. Private water wells are more likely to be tested by the EPA because they are closer to the surface.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that the spill affected over seven miles of streams, killing some 3,500 fish, mostly small ones.
The community of 4,700 people will get $1 million from Norfolk Southern to help them with the cost of clean-up and other expenses.
“We will be judged by our actions,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a statement. “We are cleaning up the site in an environmentally responsible way, reimbursing residents affected by the derailment, and working with members of the community to identify what is needed to help East Palestine recover and thrive.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said that there is evidence that a wheel bearing overheated just before the train went off the tracks. The report is expected in about two weeks.
A Train Wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, Causes a “Hot Spotlight” for the Greathouse Family: The Effects of the Train wreck on Air Quality
State and federal officials have repeatedly said that air monitoring hasn’t detected any remaining concerns despite the spread of misinformation online. The director of Ohio’s health said low levels of contaminants can create odors or cause headaches even if they are not considered hazardous.
Some people living in East Palestine, Ohio say they have developed a rash, sore throats, nausea and headaches as a result of returning to their homes this week, and they’re worried the symptoms are related to chemicals released after a train wreck two weeks ago.
Residents were given the all-clear to return to their homes February 8 after air monitoring in East Palestine did not detect any elevated chemicals of concern.
The Greathouse family decided that they could not raise their children here after returning on the 10th. There was a terrible scent that made me think of hair perming solution.
The woman had a rash on her arm and her eyes were burning after she and her husband left.
“The chemical smell was so strong that it made me nauseous,” Greathouse said. I wanted to get what I needed right away and leave. I took a few pieces of clothes because they smelled bad and I didn’t want to put them on my kids.
She kept her children out of preschool because of the train wreck. She is worried about other things even though her teacher told her the students were only using bottled water.
I am not comfortable taking my son out of the preschool they are in because I am still scared. Greathouse said that teachers are concerned about the air quality.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is requesting a visit to East Palestine to study the impact of exposures in air, water and soil
“We are very fortunate that we rent our home. I did not think I would say that. I feel awful for my landlord, but I just can’t risk my family’s health.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said a request for medical experts from the US Department of Health and Human Services has been granted, and officials should be arriving early next week to help prop up a clinic for patients.
“We know the science indicates that this water is safe, the air is safe. We know that people in East Palestine are concerned.
A CDC spokesman who asked that they be not named told me that the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry expects to have a team on site on Monday. The team will conduct an Assessment of Chemical Exposure investigation, which surveys the impact of a chemical release on people and the community.
The community is exposed to a mixture of several volatile organic compounds so it could be the mixture of them.
Haynes, who has experience investigating toxic exposures in communities, says she is seeking approval from her university’s Institutional Review Board to start a study in East Palestine to help give residents more information on their chemical exposures in air, water and soil.
Redashes: A major disaster and a need for help, said Ms. De Sanzo, the survivor of the derailed train
She said that they need all the help they can get. This is an emergency. This is a major disaster. They need all the help that we can give them.
“How safe is it, really?” asked De Sanzo, who lives half a mile from the derailed train. It is not in all the peoples heads that they are getting a rash and having pinkeye, from chemicals.
After the wreck, DeSanzo evacuated her family to Pennsylvania where her uncle’s duplex was empty. They slept on the floor and the couch.
DeSanzo says she washed their sheets and clothes when she came home this week. She says that she went to a local immediate care clinic for her children because they were coughing and had bad throats.
The doctor said she had seen a number of East Palestine residents with similar symptoms, DeSanzo said, and advised them to call poison control and go to the local hospital for a blood test. She has not yet been given a blood test.
According to Deborah Pietrzak, a spokeswoman for Salem Regional Medical Center, that clinic has treated some residents with respiratory problems and sore throats. The hospital’s emergency room has seen fewer than 10 patients from East Palestine, she said.
Pietrzak said in an email that facilities and providers are ready to help anyone who is trying to get medical attention, and they are working closely with the County’s Health Department.
Natalie Rine, a pharmacist who directs the Central Ohio Poison Center, said the state’s poison control centers are getting calls from East Palestine residents, too. The experts who staff the help lines are trained in toxicology and can help with the health issue of chemicals.
Ayla and her daughter are going through the same trauma, but she can’t afford to move out of a town where she is afraid to leave
DeSanzo says she wants to leave but can’t afford to. Less than half of the homes she found in the area were closer to the accident site and her mortgage is $400 a month.
The Antoniazzi’s have lived in East Palestine since April. After the train crash, they weren’t sure about moving out, Ayla says, but they’re now considering it.
My child was allowed to go back to preschool at the East Palestine Elementary School. She went back for two days and developed another rash on her hands and started complaining of itching, so I pulled her back out,” Ayla said.
That’s the right thing to do, says Dr. Kari Nadeau, an allergist and chair of the Department of Environmental Health at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health.
A person who is sensitive to chemicals could feel them before a monitor could pick them up. “There’s not a great diagnostic pathway for chemical sensitivities. A lot of it is based off clinical symptoms, including rashes.”
People with symptoms should see a health care provider to see if they need medical care but also if their case can be documented.
She pointed out that it helps doctors come together with institutions such as the CDC and do more fact-finding when a group of people complain about a rash.