The Occupational Safety and Health Concerns of a Chemically-Chemistry-Dominated, Freight-Lifted Railroad Derailment
The controlled explosion releases volatile organic compounds that can cause symptoms, including headaches, sore throat, and nose and eye irritation, which some East Palestine residents have complained of. However, Ohio’s state health director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said air quality doesn’t appear to be behind the reported animal deaths near the derailment.
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.
The agency’s website says railroad accidents that resulted in hazardous materials being released caused just 14 deaths from 1994 to 2005, while 116 deaths resulted from hazardous materials spilling after highway accidents in the same time period.
“There is something fundamentally wrong when a train like this could come into a state and the current law does not require, despite what they were hauling, does not require them to notify the state or local officials,” DeWine said. The fact that the train didn’t qualify under the current law is ridiculous.
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.
According to the Federal Rail Administration, the mode of transportation is capable of moving bulk quantities. Commodities that are not being moved by pipe cannot be moved by truck over highways which are not looked upon favorably.
The USA Today analysis shows that planes and highways are more prone to leak than other forms of transportation.
The full amount of toxic chemicals on that train are being tested. We are able to detect any adverse impact from that spill, and that is what we are doing.
The real issue is the risk of explosion, said a researcher at Northeastern University. It would be devastating if natural gas were to occur like the vinyl chloride one did.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Response to Water Contamination: A Tuesday News Update on Floods and Respirations at Sulphur Run
The Ohio EPA is leading efforts to investigate and correct impacts to water. Samples from Sulphur Run and other points of nearby water streams are taken for testing.
The Ratner home, for instance, was tested and cleared for VOCs, he said. And so far, no chemical detections were identified in the air of 291 homes screened by the EPA for hazardous chemicals including vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride, it said in a Monday news update, with schools and a library also screened and 181 more homes to go.
The EPA also said it has collected and stored nearly one million gallons of water in containers. Officials said the plume of initial contamination did flow to the Ohio River, but since that river is very large, “it’s a water body that’s able to dilute the pollutants pretty quickly,” said Tiffany Kavalec, Chief of the Division of Surface Water at the Ohio EPA.
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.
“Because of their size, they don’t go in the air as easily,” Whelton said. “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?”
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 Jacksonville Public Works Workers’ Compensation Committee (PCC) Investigating the East Palestine Case During a Clean-Up Event Earlier in the Day
necdotes are challenging because they are anecdotes. “Everything that we’ve gathered thus far is really pointing toward very low measurements, if at all.”
Vanderhoff repeatedly told residents in East Palestine to use bottled water until testing on their water source is completed. He said it’s especially important to use bottled water for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or making infant formula.
Kurt Kollar, the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response’s on-scene coordinators, said crews have excavated and removed 500 yards ofvinylchloride-impacted material. The EPA is also blocking off ditches around the contaminated dirt so that it doesn’t contaminate more 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.
PFAS are not broken down naturally when exposed to sunlight, air and water. Some cancers have been linked to the chemicals.
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.
On February 8 the order to leave was lifted. Since then, some residents have complained of health problems, such as headaches and nausea, while others have expressed concerns over a possiblecontamination of the air and water supply.
Norfolk Southern was supposed to be at the event hosted by East Palestine. The company that said it had hoped to give information about the clean up effort and the results of air and water tests backed out earlier in the day, citing a threat to its employees and the community.
The company said in a release that they’re increasingly concerned about the physical threat to employees and members of their community because of the increasing likelihood of outside parties.
Company officials had been scheduled to speak with the community Wednesday evening about the steps they are taking to clean up the accident site, and to provide the latest results from ongoing water and air testing.
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.
Does it make sense to still be here? Are my kids safe? Are the people safe? Is the future of this community safe?” East Palestine resident Lenny Glavan told reporters at the meeting. “We all know the severity of that question, and what’s at stake. Some people think they are downplaying; some people don’t think so – let’s find out.”
“My wife is a nurse and is not taking any chances exposing us and our two young children to whatever is now in our town,” Velez wrote on Facebook. “The risk and anxiety of trying to live in our own home again is not worth it.”
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Norfolk Southern on Feb. 8: Analysis of the Derailment, Investigations and Comments on the Site’s Cleansup
Still, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency encourages residents who get water from private wells to get those wells tested, because those wells may be closer to the surface than the municipal wells, the governor’s office said.
Feb. 8 — The evacuation order is lifted, five days after the derailment, after water samples are analyzed overnight. East Palestine fire chief says that the results lead officials to deem the water safe.
Nevertheless, worrying signs continue to emerge, including a newly public document that says potentially contaminated soil has not yet been removed from the site – a critical step experts say should be completed quickly so that toxic materials are not further dispersed into the environment and groundwater.
Vinyl chloride – a volatile organic compound, or VOC, and the most toxic chemical involved in the derailment – is known to cause cancer, attacking the liver, and can also affect the brain, Maria Doa of the Environmental Defense Fund told CNN.
Kurt Kohler of the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response said in February, “Ohio EPA is going to remain involved through our other divisions that oversee the long-term clean up of these kinds of spills.” The federal EPA, too, will “continue to do everything in our power to help protect the community,” Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday.
According to new documents posted by the EPA, Norfolk Southern hasn’t removed contaminated soil from the site. Norfolk Southern tells CNN it continues to work to clean up the site, including the removal of soil.
“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. Every time the rain falls, there is a flood of new pollutants in the environment.
CNN asked Norfolk Southern why it did not remove contaminated soil before it reopened the rail line and if it filled areas of contaminated soil to reopen the rail line.
Long-Term Investment in the East Palestine Community: Ben Ratner and His Family Concerned by the Post-Delta Railroad Accident
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.
Ben, who owned a cafe in some towns, said that the impact of the train disaster was felt by them from the beginning.
“It’s hard to make an investment in something like that or even feel good about paying our mortgage whenever there might not be any value to those things in the future,” he said. “That’s something tough to come to grips with.”
Norfolk Southern has committed millions of dollars’ worth of financial assistance to East Palestine, including $3.4 million in direct financial assistance to families and a $1 million community assistance fund, among other aid, the company has said.
We have been paying for the clean-up activities and will do so again. We are reimbursing residents for the disrupted lives they have caused due to the thorough and safe cleaning of the site. We are investing in helping East Palestine thrive for the long-term, and we will continue to be in the community for as long as it takes. We will learn from this terrible accident and work with regulators and elected officials to improve railroad safety.
Identifying Exotic Compounds in an Airbnb-Hop Far From Town, and Implications for Water Supply Management and Condolency Avoidance
Velez and his family are staying in rentals far from 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, air quality does not appear to be the source of headaches and sore throats among people or deaths of animals such as cats and chickens in and around the derailment zone, Ohio Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said Tuesday.
He said that volatile organic compounds could cause a lot of headaches and other symptoms at the lower levels. The measured facts include the fact that the air sampling in that area is not pointing toward an air source for this.
Feb. 7 — Residents in the area are told they may smell odors coming from the site because the byproducts of the controlled burn have a low odor threshold – meaning people may smell these contaminants at levels much lower than what is considered hazardous, the EPA says.
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 “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 they’re pretty confident “low levels” of contaminants that remain are not getting to customers.
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.
The sad truth is that many of us residents are stuck in the exact same situation and have no answer. “There is no viable solution other than to leave and pay a mortgage on a potentially worthless home.”
Environmental Protection Agency Response to a Norfolk Southern Railroad Decay: State Sensitivities to the Event-by-Event Trajectories
The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday that it would take control of the clean-up from a Norfolk Southern train wreck in Ohio.
Administrator Michael S. Regan told CNN that he has full authority to enforce over the crisis.
The company signed a notice of accountability that said they would be responsible for cleaning up the mess. I assure you that I will use the full power of this agency and the federal government to make sure that the company is held accountable as a result of this investigation.
Hundreds of East Palestine residents gathered at a town hall Wednesday night to vent their anger. The train operator had agreed to attend but later pulled out of the event due to safety concerns.
The agency’s move comes as the emergency response effort has now morphed into an environmental cleanup that is the responsibility of the railroad, EPA Administrator Michael Regan said during a Tuesday press conference.
Medics and experts who can treat residents who areExperiencing Symptoms are sent by DeWine to the CDC.
Emergency response teams have plans in place to keep contaminants from washing into local waterways during the storms, 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 Township of Ohio is Getting Closer to the Bottom of the Tanks. The Mayor’s Report on Wednesday Night’s Decay
The mayor told a group of reporters at Wednesday’s meeting that there were two ways to deal 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 needed help. “I have the village on my back, and I’ll do whatever it takes … to make this right. I am not leaving, I am not going somewhere.
“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. We feel confident that we can present the picture that will protect the community.
The company wasn’t at the meeting because they were less than half a mile away from the crash, a man told CNN on Wednesday night.
The Danger that Comes Home, and if You Don’t Have to Go Home, You Can’t Embrace That,” said Cozza
Some people wanted 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 will hurt 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 deserves to have the latest information. And so it’s our job, as the federal government, to hold this company accountable, and I promise you we will.”
Speaking to CNN’s Don Lemon, Cozza said the railroad company told her it was safe to return home after conducting air testing. She insisted that her house be tested for soil and water and that a toxicologist look at it.
“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.
“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 East Palestine freight disaster: How Norfolk Southern responded to the Transportation Secretary, Brown, Shapiro, Buttigieg, and Brown
Crews are still working to respond to the freight disaster in East Palestine as community members worry about possible adverse health effects from the toxic materials released when dozens of cars derailed after a likely mechanical failure.
Norfolk Southern will be required to Identify and clean up any contaminated soil and water resources, reimburse the EPA for cleaning services to be offered to residents and businesses, attend and participate in public meetings at the EPA’s request and post information online, among other requirements.
The mess and trauma that they inflicted will be paid for byNorfolk Southern. “In no way, shape or form will Norfolk Southern get off the hook for the mess that they created.”
The company has committed more than $6 million to date in East Palestine, it said, including $3.8 million in direct financial assistance to families impacted by the accident.
In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, CEO Alan Shaw responded to criticism from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, saying the company invests more than $1 billion a year in “science-based” safety solutions, including maintaining tracks, equipment and technology.
“It’s clear that the safety culture and investment in safety did not prevent this accident,” Shaw said. “We need to take a look at this and see what we can do differently and what we can do better.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro praised the EPA for taking charge of the cleanup from the crash, which took place less than a mile from the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.
I think that Norfolk Southern wasn’t going to do this because of the goodness of their own heart. There is not a lot of goodness in there. “They needed to be compelled to act.”
Investigation into the Deceleration of a Superhigh-Speed, Low-Energy Heavy-Ion Collision by a General Electric Motor Vehicle
According to CNN, investigators are looking into multiple videos of the train derailing. The National Transportation Safety Board says one of the videos shows a wheel bearing in the final stages of overheating and that’s when the train derailed.
Shaw declined to comment in the CNBC interview on potential causes. He said that the Federal Railroad Administration was looking into the cause of the train wreck.
The hazardous chemicals in the derailed cars are used to make hard plastic, such as the polyvinylchloride.
The governor of Ohio said that the state has opened a health clinic in East Palestine for people who believe they have health issues as a consequence of the train wreck.
“This is really in response to the concerns that we have heard, that people want to be able to go someplace and get some answers about any kind of medical problems that they believe that they are, in fact, having,” he said.
There was still work being done near the crash site. About 4,600 cubic yards of soil and 1.1 million gallons contaminated water have been removed so far.
President Joe Biden echoed the sentiment Tuesday, calling the EPA’s order “common sense.” “This is their mess. The president stated in a post that they should clean it up.
As the situation continued, the governor of Pennsylvania said a criminal referral was made against Norfolk Southern. The Ohio attorney general is also reviewing all actions the law “allows him to take,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said.
A Health Clinic to Address Residents’ Concerns about a Toxic Ohio Railroad Derailment after the February 3 Train Decay in East Palestine
Some residents have reported headaches and health problems as a result of the train accident, and thousands of fish died in Ohio after the train derailed.
Air and water quality testing has so far found no dangers to residents of the small village near the Pennsylvania border after the February 3 derailment, and Regan said he has “absolute confidence” in the agency’s data.
Toasting with glasses of tap water from the home of an East Palestine, Ohio, resident, Regan and DeWine sought to quell bubbling concerns about the safety of the water.
The governor of Pennsylvania alleged Tuesday that the train operator gave inaccurate information, andfused to explore alternative courses of action, in the days after the toxic wreck.
Alan Shaw, the president and CEO of Norfolk Southern, said that his company has aligned with the EPA and local efforts since the train wreck in East Palestine.
Shaw said that his company has conducted hundreds of tests with thousands of data points and all of them have turned out to be clean.
President Biden accused the administration of limiting the ability to strengthen rail safety measures when he called on Congress to help implement rails safety measures.
Biden wrote on social media that this was more than a train wreck or a toxic waste spill, it was years of opposition to safety measures coming home to roost.
The current effort involves the removal of contaminated soil and water from underneath the railroad tracks. The tracks will be lifted in order to remove the soil.
As crews continue cleanup efforts and officials promise accountability, East Palestine residents are still dealing with fears surrounding potential impacts from the toxic wreck.
The state opened a new health clinic to address the reports of rashes, headaches, nausea and other symptoms for East Palestine residents.
What do people are saying about the reported symptoms? A call to the local pediatrician, M. A. Conaway, EPA spokesman
Asked about the reported symptoms, the EPA administrator said Tuesday that he’s “not discounting what people are experiencing” and asked anyone concerned to seek medical attention.
“I believe people when they say that they’re facing adverse impacts. We can add that to our response if we ask them to seek medical attention. What people are feeling is not going to be discounted. We just ask that they seek medical help while we conduct all of our investigations.”
“We need our town cleaned up, we need our residents to feel safe in their homes,” Conaway said at Tuesday news conference. That is the number one thing. Your home is your sanctuary: if you don’t feel safe in your home, then you’re never going to feel safe anywhere.”
EPA and National Transportation Safety Board monitoring of Norfolk Southern’s rail-derailment timeline: the east palestine ohio train wreck
The EPA says that emphasis is being placed on recovery of pooled liquids, excavation of contaminated soil and removal of rail cars. In order to capture any contamination leaving the site, Norfolk Southern establishes a containment area in a section of Sulphur Creek to divert all up-stream water around the containment area. The introduction of additional contaminated material has been cut off by the containment area.
There is a shelter-in-place order for the entire town. The area that is close to the train wreck is being evacuated due to the risk of explosion.
EPA community air monitoring readings don’t detect any pollutants, they say. Norfolk Southern’s contractor continues to conduct air monitoring, the agency says.
A one mile walking tour of the track outside the hot zone was conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report is expected in four to eight weeks.
A First-Class Action Action Lawsuit Against Norfolk Southern on a Trajectories Contaminated with Particles Associated with a Train Derailment
Three aeration pumps begin operation along the Sulphur Run. Oxygen can be injected into the water. The East Palestine water treatment plant confirms there was no adverse effects to the plant, the EPA says. EPA and Norfolk Southern contractors collect surface water samples for analysis.
Feb. 6 — To prevent an explosion, Norfolk Southern launches a controlled burn of rail cars containing vinyl chloride. EPA air monitoring detects particulate matter resulting from the fire, the agency says.
The EPA continues to perform air monitoring and work with Norfolk Southern, health departments and other responding agencies to develop procedures for safely reoccupying the evacuated areas.
The EPA says it is investigating a complaint of odors from the Darlington Township, Pennsylvania, fire station. A team with air monitoring equipment goes to the station, where it does not observe any contaminants above detection limits.
The EPA and Ohio EPA are able to see spilled materials. Oily product is leaking from a tank car and pooling onto the soil. Norfolk Southern is notified of the spill and begins removing the product using a vacuum truck.
A local couple and business owner file the first-class action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, CNN reports. The suit accuses the rail company of negligence, stating it failed to exercise reasonable care for residents, with businesses adversely affected by the derailment and chemical spill.
Residents’ Concerns in the East Palestine Air, Water and Air Monitoring After the Fire Go Out: The EPA’s Comment on the February 8 Fire
Some people still have concerns despite officials deeming the air and water to be safe. Residents are encouraged to get their homes deep cleaned and seek medical attention, if necessary, officials say at a press conference.
Air monitoring throughout East Palestine continues, the EPA says. Monitoring after the fire went out didn’t reveal any levels of concern that could be attributed to the incident.
The EPA discontinued phosgene and hydrogen chloride air monitoring. After the fire was extinguished on February 8, the threat of vinyl chloride fire producing phosgene and hydrogen chloride no longer exists. EPA will continue 24-hour community air monitoring for other chemicals of concern.
In East Palestine, residents of the community pack a high school gym for a meeting to discuss the current state of the community, CNN reports.
Instead, local leaders take questions from emotional residents who expressed distrust of officials’ accounts and anger – including at the transport company’s decision to skip the event.
Regional Administrator Debra Shore is at a community meeting to hear residents’ concerns.
A State Health Clinic for Residents and Businesses to Respond to the East Palestine Municipal Well Water Decontamination and Railroad Derailment. The Columbiana County General Health District and East Palestine
Feb. 19 — The village of East Palestine’s municipal well water sample results show no water quality concerns, the EPA says. The Columbiana County General Health District continues to sample private water wells. Fifty-one wells have been examined in Ohio and three across the border in Pennsylvania, the agency says.
EPA regional administrator Debra Shore said in a press conference Saturday that the agency instructed the railroad Norfolk Southern to pause transporting any more waste products from the derailment site until federal officials could review the routes and disposal facilities.
Feb. 21 — The state opens up a health clinic for residents who worry their symptoms, such as trouble breathing, rashes and nausea, might be linked to the derailment.
• Reimburse the EPA for cleaning services to be offered to residents and businesses to provide an additional layer of reassurance, which will be conducted by EPA staff and contractors,
The company said it has a responsibility and committed to doing what is right for the residents of East Palestine.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office says it will investigate the train derailment following a criminal referral it received from the state department of environmental protection, according to a statement from the office.
Number two: they will fully pay for it. At any moment, if we have to step in because they refuse to do anything, we will do the cleaning up ourselves. The EPA could fine them up to $70,000 a day, the chief said.
“And when we recoup our total costs, we can charge them three times of the amount of the cost of the federal government. That is what the law provides.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Order to Stop Transporting of Dangerous Soil and Air Polluted Waste from East Palestine, Ohio, to Norfolk Southern
The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered shipments of hazardous waste out of East Palestine, Ohio, to stop after complaints from residents and officials in other states where the toxic material was headed.
The weekend announcement came just a few days after the EPA took over the cleaning up of East Palestine after a train accident left hazardous chemicals in the soil and air.
“We have instructed Norfolk Southern to stop but only temporarily so that we can resume transporting the contaminated waste to approved disposal sites very soon,” Shore said.
“Moving forward, waste disposal plans, including disposal location and transportation routes for contaminated waste, will be subject to federal EPA review and approval,” she noted.
“We were not made aware of this reported action, we were just told about it,” she said. “Our main priority is to keep the people we represent safe.”
A district judge of Texas said she was sensitive to the concerns of residents who learned that water from East Palestine was headed to her state. On Saturday, Hidalgo said she was “heartened” by the EPA’s decision to pause the transports.
Fifteen truckloads of dirty soil have already been taken to Michigan for disposal, according to the Ohio governor’s office. The liquid waste from East Palestine has been sent to a licensed facility in Texas, but there will be no additional liquid waste accepted there.
The EPA was reviewing transportation routes and facilities because of residents’ concerns, but she thought all the disposal facilities used by Norfolk Southern were up to the standards.
She said that it was important for the residents of East Palestine and those in the areas where the waste might be sent to make sure the process was done right.
Shore stated during the East Palestine press conference that it’s better to have it safely stored in a properly constructed and monitored disposal facility than to have it remain here any longer than is necessary. “At the same time I know there are folks in other states with concerns – legitimate concerns – about how this waste is being transported and how it is being disposed of.”