NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


Ohio train derailment: What we know about the chemical spill and safety concerns

Days after residents in East Palestine were allowed to return to their homes the EPA says there were three more dangerous chemicals onboard derailed train.

Additional chemicals discovered in Ohio train derailment

There is added concern about the dangers presented by the 3 February train derailment that occurred in East Palestine, Ohio that forced the evacuation of the town. The accident involving roughly 50 cars, ten of which were carrying hazardous materials, resulted in a fiery inferno as the contents of some cars were released and ignited to mitigate uncontrolled explosions and get rid of the chemicals.

At the time, it was known that the chemical vinyl chloride, a hazardous, odorless chemical mainly used to make plastics, was present in five of the cars. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to Norfolk Southern stating that its train was carrying three additional dangerous chemicals, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene according to WKBN.

Special concern over presence of ethylhexyl acrylate, a carcinogen

Roughly half of the 4,800 residents of East Palestine were ordered to evacuate after the derailment for fear they could be injured or even killed by exposure to the toxic chemicals in some of the freight cars. The order was lifted late on Wednesday last week.

There are new concerns now though with the identification of the additional chemicals found. Of special concern is ethylhexyl acrylate according to Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist. Like vinyl chloride it is a carcinogen.

“We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” Caggiano said. “I was surprised when they quickly told the people they can go back home, but then said if they feel like they want their homes tested, they can have them tested. I would’ve far rather they did all the testing.”

Concerns about safety of water and air

While there are concerns from the public about the air and water quality, the EPA has said both are safe. Readings from air quality samples taken in the area of the wreckage and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently been below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern according to the agency.

Likewise, water quality is safe to drink although some contaminants did make their way into the water resulting in dead fish. But protective measures were taken to minimize any impact to drinking water. However, the agency will continue to monitor its safety.

A Portable Water Task Group will be going door-to-door to check “at risk water wells.” Residents can also have their private well water tested for free. “Norfolk Southern will pay for it,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said.

Concerns about water quality extend beyond the town of East Palestine. West Virginia American Water is taking addition precautions in light of the mounting health concerns. The water utility is enhancing its water treatment process as well as installing an alternate secondary water intake should it need to switch from its primary source the Ohio River.


To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?