Federal teams are giving flyers to East Palestine families and conducting health surveys after a toxic train wreck
The Jacksonville, Fla., freight train crash that killed two children during evacuation went unreported on February 3. The passenger’s injuries and family members are being monitored
The air smelled of chlorine this week as a man and his wife were raising their two children.
The 100-car freight train that derailed February 3 was carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate, the US Environmental Protection Agency said. Of those, the vinyl chloride gas that caught fire could break down into compounds including hydrogen chloride and phosgene, a chemical weapon used during World War I as a choking agent, according to the EPA and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though an evacuation order was lifted last week, some residents refuse to return amid fears the water, air, soil and surfaces in the village of 5,000 are still not safe.
The representatives of the train’s operator, Norfolk Southern, did not attend the meeting because they were worried about employees being threatened.
The company said in a release that they have become increasingly concerned about the growingphysical threat to their employees and members of the community around this event because of the increased likelihood of outside parties.
Company officials had hoped to join local leaders Wednesday evening to update the community on the steps they are taking to “safely clean up the accident site and to provide the latest results from ongoing water and air testing,” the release reads.
A community meeting still was expected to go forward Wednesday evening, and plaintiff’s attorneys invited residents to meet with them beforehand to discuss the derailment’s impact.
“Is it OK to still be here? Are my kids well taken care of? Are the people safe? Is the future of this community safe?” The resident of East Palestine spoke to the reporters. We all know what is at stake, and the severity of that question. Some people think they are not telling the truth, while other people think they are.
Velez wrote on Facebook that he and his wife are not taking any chances with the two young kids because his wife is a nurse. It is not worth it to have to live in our own home again.
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The governor’s office said that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency encourages people who use private wells to have them tested because they may be closer to the surface than the municipal wells.
The evacuation order was lifted February 8, five days after the derailment, after earlier air and water sample results led officials to deem the area safe.
A new document shows that potentially contaminated soil hasn’t yet been removed from the site, which makes it critical for the work to be completed quickly so that toxic materials aren’t spread into the environment.
Maria Doa of the Environmental Defense Fund said Vinyl Chloride is known to cause cancer, attacking theLiver, and can also affect the brain.
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 that the EPA will continue to do everything they can to protect the community.
A company that was hired by Norfolk Southern to clean up their site did not list soil removal as part of their work.
“Contaminated soil will continue (to) leech contaminants, both up into the air, and down into the surrounding ground,” Richard Peltier, an environmental health scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told CNN in an email. A flood of new contaminants will enter the ecosystems when it rains.
CNN asked Norfolk Southern why it had not removed contaminated soil before reopening the site, and if it had filled in areas of contaminated soil and chemicals in order to reopen the rail line.
Ben Ratner and his family worry about environmental consequences of the East Palestine chemical enrichment project, as observed with the Norfolk Southern Observatory and the EPA
East Palestine resident Ben Ratner and his family worry about the longer-term risks that environmental officials are only beginning to assess, he told CNN this week.
The test for VOCs was done at the Ratner home. In an update Monday, the EPA said no chemical detections have been made so far in the air of more than 200 homes.
Ben, the owner of a few towns, said that he and his brother are still feeling an ever-changing mix of emotions and feelings just right from the start.
He said that it was hard to make an investment in something like that or even feel good about paying our mortgage whenever there might not be any value in the future. “That’s something tough to come to grips with.”
Norfolk Southern said Wednesday it was creating a $1 million charitable fund to support East Palestine, saying it was “committed” to the community “today and in the future.”
“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 eco-conscious way, reimbursing residents who were affected by the train wreck, and working with the community to figure out what is needed to help East Palestine recover and thrive.
Air Quality in East Palestine, Ohio, Revealed by EPA and Ohio National Guard Detectors During the Monday Air Monitoring Event
The EPA and the Ohio National Guard have taken air samples in the East Palestine community to look for vinyl Chloride, Hydrogen Chloride, carbon monoxide, phosgene and other compounds. More than a dozen instruments with different types of measures, all of which stated that their screening level had not been exceeded, are included in the air monitoring results posted on Tuesday by the EPA.
Velez and his family are temporarily staying in rentals away from the town. He previously told CNN that when he visited the town Monday, a chemical odor left his eyes and throat burning, and gave him a nagging headache.
Despite Velez’s experience, the health director of Ohio said that air quality does not appear to cause headaches or sore throats among people in or near the area where there is a train wreck.
Air monitoring hasn’t detected any remaining concerns despite the misrepresentations and exaggerations that spread online. The health director in Ohio said low levels of pollutants can create odors and cause headaches.
“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.”
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James Lee from the Ohio EPA said residents in the area and tens of miles away may smell odors from the site. The substances involved have a low odor threshold. The people might smell these contaminants at levels much lower than what is considered hazardous.
The Ratner family is limiting its water use because of unknown affects, Ben Ratner said. Velez worries “every time we turn the water on or give my daughter a bath could potentially be hazardous,” he wrote on Facebook.
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. The CDC considers the substance to be hazardous, but the testing results indicate that it is currently well below that. 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.
The “tracking allows for potential closing of drinking water intakes to allow the majority of the chemicals to pass. The strategy and drinking water treatment both help ensure the safety of the drinking water supplies.
He and his family have been hopping on flights for 30 minutes from their home since they were forced to leave, but rental options are running out, and his friend set up a campaign to raise money for the family.
Many of us residents are stuck in the same situation and it is sad that there is no answer. “There is no viable solution other than to leave and pay a mortgage on a potentially worthless home.”
The East Prussia hush-hush: Public complaints against the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which is not responding to residents’ concerns over health and pollution concerns
The residents of East Prussia packed a gym to ask about the safety of the chemicals that they were exposed to when the train derailed.
State officials told hundreds of worried people that testing had shown that local air is safe to breathe and they would continue to do safety tests on the water.
But residents had many questions over health hazards and they demanded more transparency from the railroad operator, Norfolk Southern, which did not attend the gathering, citing safety concerns for its staff.
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 are they being hush-hush?” Kathy said about the railroad. “They’re not out here supporting, they’re not out here answering questions. We didn’t know what was on the train for three days.
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.
“The pollution, which continues to contaminate the area around East Palestine, created a nuisance, damage to natural resources and caused environmental harm,” Yost said in a letter to the company.
The Frustrated East Palestine Town Hall: An Update on the EPA/NEWTON SOUTH Detection and Implications for Environmental Quality and Public Health
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates the spill killed several thousand fish, most of them small ones.
The wheel seen on video before the accident is under scrutiny, as is one of the elements. The apparent overheating began at least 43 minutes before the train derailed, according to a CNN analysis of surveillance videos the network obtained.
On Thursday, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s head traveled to East Palestine, Ohio and said that it would hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the train accident that occurred earlier this month.
The EPA Administrator told CNN that his agency has the authority to use its enforcement capabilities during the crisis.
“We issued a notice of accountability to the company, and they’ve signed that, indicating that they will be responsible for the cleanup,” Regan told CNN. “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.”
The residents of the town are understandably angry over the train crash and the chemical burn-off that could endanger their health.
Hundreds of East Palestine residents attended a town hall Wednesday night to express their frustrations and mounting distrust. The operator of the train had agreed to attend but later withdrew due to safety concerns.
A Congressional Visit to the East Palestine Train Scenario after the Departure of the X-Ray Eliminator and the Interferometric Experiment
Some of the ongoing efforts to address the train wreck was observed by Regan during his visit. The federal arm is prepared to provide aid when required, while the EPA has the primary responsibility for the scene.
“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. All volatile organic chemicals are being tested. We are checking for all of the things that were on that train. So we feel comfortable that we are casting a net wide enough to present a picture that will protect the community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should immediately send medical experts to East Palestine to evaluate and give health advice to community members, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday.
Emergency response teams have plans in place to prevent substances not yet removed from the site from washing into nearby waterways, DeWine said 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.
The Ohio-Train Derailment East Palestine Thursday Night: Is There a Light Enough Smell?
The Mayor told a group of reporters at the meeting that there were two options, one of which was to blow up the tanks. 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.”
“I need help,” Conaway told reporters Wednesday night. I have the village on my back, and I will do whatever it takes to make this right. I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere.”
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 did not want to go home, but they had to. He said that all the people who had to go home were complaining of smells, pains in their throat, headaches and sickness. I have been back a number of times and the smell makes me sick. It hurts your head.
“I am so sorry you didn’t show up,” Reply to Cozza in a Cleveland Township Township Refereed at the May 22 Railroad Experiment
I was extremely upset that they didn’t show up at the town hall meeting. He said that the public deserves transparency. The public deserves 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.”
The train company told Cozza it was safe to come home after they conducted air testing. However, she insisted the company run soil and water tests, and only then did a toxicologist deem her house unsafe.
Cozza said she wouldn’t have been comfortable in that house if she hadn’t thrown a fit and used her voice.
“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.”
The Biden administration said it has deployed federal medical experts to help assess what dangers remain at an Ohio village where a train carrying hazardous materials derailed this month, a ramp-up of federal support at the governor’s request as anxious residents point to signs of adverse effects.
“This request for medical experts includes, but is not limited to, physicians and behavioral health specialists,” DeWine wrote in a letter to the CDC. “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 cause and investigation of the Ohio-Pennsylvania railroad crash in Ohio are deemed hazardous, according to the Environmental Agency Administration
According to Jean-Pierre, who noted on Thursday that the situation was much more expansive than what FEMA can offer, this is in addition to the aid the agency is providing.
Some people in the community along the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line are worried that some areas may be unsafe to live in.
The overriding concern for everybody involved is … a lot of these people don’t have municipal water supplies, but instead they rely on wells. And I think their biggest concern is: over time, are the chemicals that were dissipated throughout all this getting into the waterways? Is it a given that they will never get into the well water?
On Thursday the head of the Environmental Agency Administration made a point of coming to East Palestine to assure residents that he has their backs.
Regan also noted that the train operator, Norfolk Southern, has signed a notice of accountability, acknowledging they will be responsible for the cleanup.
Meanwhile, another train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed Thursday morning in Michigan’s Van Buren Charter Township, and local officials said there was no evidence the area was exposed to hazardous materials.
A group of around 30 rail cars had derailed. One of the overturned rail cars contained agricultural grain while the other overturned cars were empty, Van Buren Township Public Safety said.
Federal transportation investigators are working vigorously to determine what caused the 100-car freight train to crash in Ohio, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday in a thread of tweets.
The board’s chairwoman Jennifer Homendy wrote that she had made a personal commitment to continue the public release of information. The tank cars will be thoroughly examined by theNTSB after decontaminated. As always, we’ll issue urgent safety recommendations as needed.”
Homendy, whose agency is responsible for investigating transportation crashes from aviation to railways, asked the public not to speculate about why the crash occurred.
The White House says President Biden is “terrible” that he has not yet visited the February 3 derailment site of the Ohio River
The US Environmental Protection Agency stated that the train was carrying a lot of toxic materials.
East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway said during Wednesday’s town hall meeting that the only option was to manually release the chemicals, which could pose a greater danger to residents.
“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.”
Jami Cozza, an East Palestine resident who attended the meeting and was vocal about the issues her family have been facing since the train derailed, said she will not return home until it’s safe. Cozza told CNN that she was staying at a hotel paid for by the train company due to toxicity in her home.
The company initially said it would make $1,000 payments to residents who lived within a mile of the spill evacuation zone. But the company has since decided to pay each resident in the entire 44413 ZIP code that money, a spokesman for the company told CNN.
As he visited Little Beaver Creek, an Ohio River tributary near the derailment site, Trump said he thinks it is “terrible” that Biden has not yet visited the site of the February 3 derailment.
His visit to one of the most conservative regions of the deep red state came with many of the hallmarks of a president visit, as Trump sought to contrast himself with Biden, who made a historic war zone trip to Ukraine’s capital.
Why Did President Biden Visit East Palestine? Comments on the Ohio-Pennsylvania Derailment, Federal Emergency Management, and Rail Safety
“You are being taken care of,” Trump said. We are with you. We pray for you. And we will stand with you and your fight to help ensure the accountability that you deserve.”
The former president’s Ohio trip came as the 2024 GOP presidential race begins to take shape, with intra-party rivals lining up to take on Trump. Other Republicans have also criticized Biden’s response to the derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
The federal government’s mounting response to the Ohio town was due to the announcement of the President’s visit, which Trump said opened up the dam.
He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s announcement last week that it was deploying teams to the area should have come “two weeks earlier, or at least a week earlier.”
Some of the water bottles with the Trump logo came from the hotel properties of the former president, Trump said. He said that the water came from the plane he was on.
A rule was put into place by the Obama administration to have trains carrying hazardous materials retrofitted with electronically controlled braking systems.
There is a group of people who seem to find political opportunity there who often sided with the rail industry and fought safety regulations on railroads, according to Pete Buttigieg. I think it’s a good thing that people are going to start finding religion about rail regulation.
Experts told CNN that the regulations wouldn’t have made a difference in the East Palestine train crash because the train didn’t meet the criteria.
Republicans have largely ignored this argument, and instead bashed the slow response from the federal government, with some conservative commentators insinuating the pace was because residents in East Palestine are GOP voters.
“That was the biggest slap in the face that tells you right now he doesn’t care about us,” East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, a Republican, said of Biden’s trip to Ukraine earlier this week on Fox News. I was furious when I received an email that he was in the Ukraine and giving money to people there but didn’t give to us.
“Since Trump announced the trip, the EPA administrator changed his schedule and went [to East Palestine], all the sudden FEMA changes course and provides federal help – enough things have happened that we’ve already accomplished a lot of what we had hoped before even being on the ground,” one Trump adviser told CNN.
The Norfolk Southern Firefighter’s Hot Topic: How the Governor of Pennsylvania and Norfolk Southern will clean up after the EPA Clean-up
Who is he? Nicholas Proia is a pulmonologist in the area and a clinical professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, not far from East Palestine.
What are the people talking about? There was a rise in patients when the derailed train and controlled burn took place but Proia hadn’t experienced it.
Respiratory illness has not been seen much in this country. A few patients will say there is a rash or a foul smell, because they have heard what we have said through the media. There is no evidence to show that there is overt breathing problems or respiratory failure associated with this.
It’s also a caveat to remember that you’re only going to find what you’re looking for. It’s no secret that there’s something else out there, especially after a large fire with a bunch of different chemicals.
The Governor of PA said Norfolk Southern gave a middle finger to the people of Pennsylvania and Ohio in the way it had handled its response. On his side of the border authorities would keep an eye on water.
What are you going to do now? The EPA took control of the clean up this week and asked Norfolk Southern to foot the bill for any works done by the agency.
The Failure of the Transportation Secretary to Meet the President, the First Lady of America, and Three Hours After the September 11, 2016 Derailment
Seeing a political opportunity, former President Donald Trump and a cadre of other conservatives descended on the small town of fewer than 5,000 residents. The Trump branded hats, water, and attacks on the Biden administration were handed out by Trump. Then, under political pressure, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made his way there, too, met with local leaders and offered his own rejoinders for the former president.
But while political leaders are mired in short-term politics, people in town are concerned about the long-term effects of the air they breathe and the water they drink.
Conservatives held up East Palestine as an example of the kind of people they value because the community voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“The community has shown the tough and resilient heart of America,” Trump said, “and that’s what it is — this is really America right here. We’re in America.
At a time when the country is in the midst of a political realignment that largely focuses on education and geography, there have been pitched battles over who “real Americans” are.
Under political pressure, Secretary Buttigieg, himself a former Midwestern mayor, made the trip to East Palestine this week, three weeks after the disaster happened.
The congressman said the absence of the leader was a “big signal to this community that the administration doesn’t care.”
Biden said Friday that he had no immediate plans to visit, but pointed out that administration officials were on the ground within “two hours” of the derailment. The White House has previously noted that included teams from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who were coordinating with local agencies and first responders and that the president was in communication with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and neighboring Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.
The train went down and we were at it for two hours, Biden said. “I’ve spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and in Ohio, and so the idea that we’re not engaged is just simply not there. And initially, there was not a request for me to go out even before I was heading over to Kyiv, so I’m keeping very close tabs on it. We are doing everything we can.
Reply to the EPA Administrator Michael Regan: “Come on, come on, but don’t come,” or “It’s time to move on”
EPA administrator Michael Regan, who traveled to East Palestine earlier this month, was sharply critical of Norfolk Southern, the rail company whose train derailed, for not showing up.
Regan told the NPR program this week that they have to make sure they show up and apologize to the community. This mess was caused by them. They have to clean it up. And they have to prove to us and to the community that they’re genuine in all of the declarations that they’ve made. It isn’t a good idea to not attend public meetings.
Regan spoke about being transparent with residents, providing resources, and also being there, as well as how important it was to have trust in the federal government after the disaster.
While in town, buttigieg called for stronger rail- safety rules, fielding questions from reporters and swatted back at Trump, while trying to stay focused on the substance.
The chair of the National Transportation Safety Board said that if the rule had not been in place, other measures could have been put in place.
But conservatives, who have descended on the town or called out Biden from afar for not being there in person yet, haven’t offered much in the way of real solutions to prevent these kinds of disasters in the future — like any regulations they might support, which the industry has lobbied against.
“It is time to move on,” Homendy said. I don’t understand why the thing has become so political. This is a community that is suffering. This isn’t about politics. Addressing their needs, their concerns is what this is about. That’s what this should be about.”
White House Office of Environmental Protection and CDC is going door-to-door in East Palestine, after President Joe Biden announced the results of a train wreck investigation
The White House said that federal teams are going door-to-door in East Palestine to check in with residents of the area, which has been hit by a toxic train wreck.
The teams are finishing the surveys after President Joe Biden directed them to do so.
Emergency resources, as well as details on how to schedule a free health assessment, are included in the flyer obtained first by CNN. It also includes the number of a dedicated poison control hotline for questions related to the train derailment, and details on the next federal US Environmental Protection Agency-led public meeting at 6 p.m. March 2 in the Palestine High School Auditorium.
According to the White House official, members of the EPA, FEMA, and CDC are handing out flyers at 400 homes with the goal of reaching that number by Monday. The surveys are being done by the CDC.
Biden on Friday directed agencies to go door-to-door to check in with residents after he received an update on the federal government’s response to the derailment from senior officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the heads of the EPA and FEMA, according to the official.