Air and Water Monitoring of East Palestine, Ohio, during a Derailed Ohio-Bolt, Chemical-Induced Railroad Collision
East Palestine, Ohio, was the scene of a train derailing and controlled explosion of chemicals. But many questions remain about how the train derailed and what the lingering chemical exposure could be in residents’ air and water.
Those just outside the evacuation zone in East Palestine and in neighboring Beaver County, Pennsylvania, had been urged to stay indoors as a precaution. Air samples in nearby counties didn’t show any dangerous levels of pollution.
As of Tuesday, the EPA reported it had screened indoor air at 396 homes in the area, with 100 homes remaining. The agency is also screening the air in local schools. After it was discovered that there was a lot ofContamination in the local waterways, it tested them several times.
He said that there was a robust air monitoring system in place and that there was nothing in the data that would cause health concern. During the controlled burn at the derailed train site, toxins were found in the air, but other samples outside the area did not.
Many nearby residents were ordered to leave immediately after the incident because of health concerns, and others were put out before the chemicals were released.
The commander had said that members of the National Guard would take readings inside homes and businesses to make sure the air was safe before the order was lifted.
Class-action actions against Norfolk Southern for the evacuation of East Palestine and release of toxic vinyl chloride and other hazardous materials from a flaming rail vehicle
There were no injuries when about 50 cars derailed in a flaming mess on the outskirts of East Palestine. As fears grew about a potential explosion, officials seeking to avoid an uncontrolled blast had the area evacuated and opted to release and burn toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars, sending flames and black smoke billowing into the sky again.
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.
During a Tuesday news conference, DeWine said the Norfolk Southern train that derailed was not categorized as a high hazardous material train, meaning the railroad was not required to notify state officials about what chemicals the rail cars contained.
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 air quality has not been a problem in East Palestine according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The agency added that vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride have not been detected in the 291 homes that have been screened as of Monday. More than 180 homes are still being 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.
Vinyl chloride breaks down from sunlight within a few days and changes into other chemicals, if it is exposed. According to the Ohio Department of Health, when a chemical is spilled, it leaves a small trail in the air.
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 inflammation in the eyes, throat, nose, and mouth, as well as irritation of the skin, nose, and throat.
Indoor air quality and chemical spills: Why train collisions and spills can lead to a devastating scenario for natural gas,” said Karen Dannemiller, assistant professor at Ohio State University
“Now that we are entering into a longer term phase of this, people are going to be concerned about the long-term chronic exposure that comes at lower levels,” said Karen Dannemiller, a professor at The Ohio State University who studies indoor air quality.
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 advises vacuuming in short bursts to prevent air pollutants from entering.
America’s railroads move a lot of chemicals. In the year 2021, the Association of American Railroads saidfreight trains moved 2.2 million carloads of chemicals.
“If this is true – and I’m told it’s true – this is absurd,” DeWine said. When hazardous material is being carried on a train through Ohio, we should know.
According to Warren Flatau, the mode of transportation is capable of moving bulk quantities. “These commodities cannot be moved by pipeline; the alternative is moving them by truck over the highways, which is not looked upon favorably.”
The risks of a crash and hazardous spill are considered high by chemical safety experts, but the Association of American Railroads says that “more than 99% of hazmat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by a train accident.”
There is a real risk of train crashes and explosion, according to someone at Northeastern University. “If natural gas were to have a derailment like the vinyl chloride, it would be devastating.”
Water and Air Quality Report from the Ohio River Contaminated by a Chemical Bloom after an Exit from a Rail Car, and Associated Animal Deaths
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials have been conducting air, soil and water tests since the controlled explosion of the chemicals inside the rail cars.
There is a chemical bloom in the Ohio river that will be near Huntington, West Virginia sometime tomorrow, according to the governor. The CDC considers the chemical to be hazardous, but tests show it is well below that level. No vinyl chloride has been detected in the Ohio River, he added, though agencies will continue sampling river water out of an abundance of caution.
While most of the Tuesday news conference focused on volatile organic compounds – chemicals found in common household products – there are other kinds of chemicals that were released in the spill that don’t diffuse as easily, according to Purdue University professor Andrew Whelton, an expert on disasters, environmental chemistry and water quality.
Whelton said that their size makes them difficult to go in the air. They like to stick to soils and other materials. The question is, how contaminated is the creek and what will they do to remediate that?”
Thousands of fish were killed by the smell of the chemical in the water, and residents were worried that it was tainting the water and air.
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 air quality in Ohio doesn’t seem to be causing the reported animal deaths near the train wreck.
Anecdotes about Water and Air Quality Measurements in Palestine and the Promise of a Continued Test of the Air and Water Source
necdotes are challenging because they are anecdotes. Everything that we have gathered thus far is pointing toward very low measurements.
People in East Palestine were told repeatedly to use bottled water until testing of their water source was completed. He thinks it’s important to have bottled water for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or making infant formula.
Crews have excavated and removed nearly 500 cubic yards of “vinyl chloride-impacted material” including soil, according to Kurt Kollar, the on-scene coordinator for the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response. The ditches around the dirt are being barricaded by the EPA to keep it out of the water.
As for drinking water, Kavalec said water treatment facilities should be able to remove the remaining low levels of volatile organic compounds in the water, and that the water will eventually be safe to drink.
There are some pans and foams that contain plausibility of plausibility. The water was not yet tested for PFAS but EPA would work on it.
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 Norfolk Southern Railroad: Why the Railroad isn’t Out Here, and Why it’s Not Going To Work for the Long-Term Future of the Railroad
Representatives from Norfolk Southern had plans to attend the Wednesday night meeting to provide information on how they are responding to the chemical crisis. But the company backed out, citing threats against its employees.
In a statement, Norfolk Southern said it wasn’t going to the open house because of a physical threat to their employees and members of the community.
Wednesday’s meeting came amid continuing concerns about the huge plumes of smoke, persisting odors, questions over potential threats to pets and wild animals, any potential impact on drinking water and what was happening with cleanup.
“Why is they not talking about it?” Kathy said about 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.
In a letter, Yost said that the pollution caused environmental harm, nuisance, and damage to natural resources.
Norfolk Southern Water Wells, the Derailment of a High-Surface Rail Car, and the EPA’s Enforcement Authority
The water supplied to the village’s drinking water from the wells has been tested and found to be free of any harmful substances. But the EPA also is recommending testing for private water wells because they are closer to the surface.
More than 1,100 families and some businesses have been given direct financial assistance from Norfolk Southern to help cover the costs of the disaster, according to a news release.
“We will be judged by our actions,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a statement. The site is being cleaned in a responsible way, we are helping the residents of East Palestine, and we are working with the community to identify what is needed to rebuild the area.
At around 8:12 p.m. on February 3, sparks from an apparent wheel bearing overheating were visible as the train passed through Salem, Ohio, two surveillance videos obtained by CNN show. Bright light and sparks are seen emanating from one of the rail cars.
State and federal officials have repeatedly promised to assure the public that air monitoring has not detected any remaining concerns. The health director for Ohio said that even low levels of contaminants can cause odors and headaches.
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 right to use its enforcement capabilities, Administrator Michael S. Regan told CNN.
Regan said that he would use the full enforcement authority of the agency to make sure that the company was held accountable.
When the Ohio Railroad Derailment rolled over, the East Palestine EPA and the CDC stepped in to help solve the public frustrations
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 pulled out of the event due to safety concerns.
The town was visited by Regan Thursday and he observed some of the work that had been done. He said the state has primary responsibility over the scene but the EPA was prepared to partner and provide necessary resources.
Governor DeWine requested that the CDC immediately send medical experts to East Palestine to evaluate and help community members with health issues.
In the event of a storm, emergency response teams will have plans in place to prevent pollutants from entering local waterways.
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.
Are I Okay to Still Be Here? A Mayor’s Perspective on Chemical Smells in the Rhomboshalgia Town
Is it ok to still be here? Are my kids safe? Is the people safe? Is the future of the community safe? East Palestine resident Lenny Glavan told reporters at the meeting. We all know the seriousness of that question and what it means. Some people think they are downplaying; some people don’t think so – let’s find out.”
Mayor Trent Conaway told a group of reporters at the meeting that there were two options for dealing with the tanks. “Yes, harmful chemicals went into the air. I am truly sorry, but that is 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 Wednesday night that he needs help. “I have the village on my back, and I’ll do whatever it takes … to make this right. I’m not leaving and I’m not going somewhere.
The company believes that the increase in participation of outside parties has made it riskier for employees and community members to attend.
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.”
Velez and his family are temporarily staying in rentals away from the town. He said that a chemical odor left his eyes and throat burning when he was in the town.
“Most people did not want to go home, but they had to. 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.”
Amen. Rep. Jami Cozza: She’s sorry she didn’t turn up at town hall meeting after the last railroad accident in East Palestine
“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 is entitled to have the latest information. It is our duty as the federal government to hold this company accountable.
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.
The outlet reported, “Jamie Cozza and her family evacuated to a hotel and have not moved back to town. She said she’s glad she didn’t return after a toxicology report done at her house came back with bad news. She said that she needed to have more testing of her soil and water.
I would have been sitting in that house right now if I hadn’t used my voice, Cozza said Thursday.
The Biden administration said it has deployed federal medical experts to help assess the safety of the Ohio village where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed this month, a ramp-up of federal support as anxious residents point to signs of adverse effects.
DeWine wrote a letter to the CDC requesting medical experts who would include physicians and behavioral health specialists. “Some community members have already seen physicians in the area but remain concerned about their condition and possible health effects – both short- and long-term.”
The Biden administration approved the request and began deploying teams from both federal agencies in part for public health testing and assessments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday.
The Ohio-Pennsylvania Railroad Accident Report: Governor Jean Pierre, Commissioner Jean-Pierre, and the National Transportation Safety Board
The train wreck situation is much more expansive than what FEMA can offer according to Jean-Pierre, who noted Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing.
With growing concerns that some areas may not be safe to live in, the federal support boost to a community with some 5,000 people along the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line.
On Thursday, the head of the federal Environmental Agency Administration went to East Palestine and reassured residents that the agency has their backs.
The train operator, Norfolk Southern, has signed a notice of accountability that acknowledges they will be responsible for cleaning up the mess.
The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said in a thread that investigators are working diligently to determine what caused the freight train crash in Ohio.
“You have my personal commitment that the NTSB will CONTINUE to share all information publicly as soon as possible following our analysis,” board chairwoman Jennifer Homendy wrote. “Next: NTSB investigators will thoroughly examine the tank cars once decontaminated. As always, we’ll issue urgent safety recommendations as needed.”
Homendy, whose agency is responsible for investigating various transportation crashes from aviation to railways, implored the public on Twitter not to speculate about the cause of the crash.
During an intense community town hall meeting Wednesday in a high school gym, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway addressed the February 6 controlled detonations, saying the only option was to release the chemicals manually or risk greater danger to residents.
Are Railroads Responsible for Chemical Hazards? Report on a Times-Revisited East Palestine Accident at the Transcontinent Railroad, New Jersey, April 16, 2012
The company initially said they would make a $1,000 payment to those who lived within a mile of the spill. The company decided to pay every resident of the ZIP code, a spokesman for the company told CNN.
Some residents have reported headaches and rashes in the aftermath of the incident and have grown frustrated with the response from the rail company, Norfolk Southern, and public officials.
The recent tragedy in East Palestine reminded a scientist of the risks that can be taken by people near railways throughout the U.S.
There are things individuals can do on their own to protect themselves and their families from risks of hazardous air or water following a chemical spill, said Dr. Mary Prunicki, the senior director of air pollution and health research at Stanford Medicine.
“It’s not like, [accidents are] impossible. These things do happen. Emergency response plans are needed in the community when things are happening near residential areas.
The AAR says extensive work has been done to improve tank car designs to prevent hazardous spills. Railroads are also involved in training thousands of first responders annually. When derailments do occur, the association says emergency personnel have access to information on what is in rail cars and how to respond to it.
“These efforts — coupled with ongoing investment, technology, employee training, improved operating practices and community outreach efforts — have lowered hazmat accident rates by 55% since 2012,” the organization claims.
If this is a concern in your community, it’s advisable that you work with local governments to get a response plan in place. She said that first responders should know about the plan and that there should be a way to alert the population in multiple languages.
When accidents involving hazardous chemicals happen, the community needs the most up-to-date information.
“First responders and local health departments, local environmental agencies, and physicians, health care workers — all of them need accurate, timely information” to be able to properly respond and keep each other safe, she said.
Prunicki said to look over furnace and air filters to be sure they are working well, so that if you are inside, you have the best possible environment regardless of what is happening outside.
She said it’s a good idea to have your medication on hand for people with chronic health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages families to have a ready bag for pets if there is an emergency.
When a chemical emergency strikes, the CDC says communities will likely hear orders on what to do from emergency officials on the radio, TV and mobile news apps, or from text alerts via the emergency alert service.
The CDC has a list of things to know when communities are told to shelter-in-place. During the crisis, the agency encourages keeping up with public safety officials’ updates.
“Staying put for chemical emergencies is different from shelter-in-place for severe weather or tornadoes or radiation or nuclear emergency. You should seal off your space from outside air as much as you can,” the CDC says.
A safe room is where family members can hide from the outside air. Duct tape, towels, and plastic sheets can be used to seal out chemical agents in windows and doors.
On the dangers of drinking water when you’re going to the bathroom, and what to do if you happen to have a chemical spill
If your home is affected by a chemical spill, demand more testing on water and soil to be safe according to Cozza’s instinct.
In some of the affected areas of Ohio where residents rely on private wells and other private sources, authorities encouraged people to only drink bottled water.
She said the hotter the water, the more it will volatilize and fall into the air. Cooking with water that might be polluted is not advisable as the water will turn to steam and can have a toxic effect.
After the order to evacuate was lifted, the outlet spoke to Desanzo who was in the area with her children. She’s regretting that decision.
“We all have red rashes, loose stool, very congested, eyes burning, everything smells,” Desanzo told Ideastream. “I’ve been having terrible headaches.”
She said that if smells are bad, use your own judgment and not listen to people who say it’s fine. “If it is making me sick, I’m gonna get out of there.”
Residents’ Mistrust in the East Palestine Counties: The Case of Ms. Guglielmo and Other Nearby Residents
Reflecting the fundamental mistrust residents have in the railroad company Norfolk Southern and the government, Ms. Guglielmo is one of several people who live in the region who are seeking independent tests or are looking for ways to conduct their own.
Ms Guglielmo and others on the outskirts of East Palestine have reported a persistent smell of chemicals in their area and have found little solace in the assurances given by the authorities.
The threat of possible long-term exposure to the chemical cocktail released into the air and water, coupled with a deep fear that the town and its neighboring villages will be forgotten in the coming months, has also left many residents feeling as if they are on their own to prove that it is safe to remain or return through means that include paying out of pocket for their own tests. Some have become novice chemists by rattling off the effects of chemical compounds that were not important to them two weeks ago.