Report: Chemicals Released in Train Derailment Kill 3,500 Fish

Feb. 14, 2023
Authorities continue to evaluate how the spill is impacting East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding area

The fallout from a train derailment of 50 Norfolk Southern Railway Co. cars in East Palestine, Ohio, continues to develop, with news reports that about 3,500 fish were killed from a related toxic spill.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that the spill impacted about 7.5 miles of streams, according to a report on News 5 Cleveland.

Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting that new data shows vinyl chloride may not have been the only hazardous chemical on the train. According to an EPA document, the train was also carrying ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylates.

Exposure to these substances can lead to various symptoms ranging from nose and throat irritation to blood in the urine, ABC News reports.

Community air monitoring will continue operating 24 hours a day, the EPA said on Feb. 13, with at least 291 homes already screened. The EPA has not detected the presence of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride in any of the homes the agency has screened. The agency plans to screen another 181 homes.

Additional screening activities include screening of local schools and the library.

As of Feb. 13, the EPA said its network of air monitoring stations throughout the East Palestine area “did not detect anything above the action level.”

The derailment occurred just before 9 p.m. EST on Feb. 3. Norfolk Southern reported the incident about two hours later to the National Response Center.

Of the 50 cars involved in the incident, five were transporting vinyl chloride, which is used to make polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin.

To mitigate risks, on Feb. 6 crews released the toxic chemicals from the five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding and began burning them after warning residents to leave immediately or face the possibility of death.

Chemical releases affected stormwater infrastructure and surface water, including Sulphur Run and Leslie Run, according to a letter that engineering consultancy firm Arcadis sent to the Ohio EPA on behalf of Norfolk Southern.

So far, some of the remediation efforts have included controlled venting and burning or flaring of vinyl chloride, the transfer of liquids from the site for disposal, rerouting of surface water to bypass a nearby creek, air quality monitoring, soil sampling and water well surveys, according to the Arcadis letter.

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