EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Environmental Protection Agency is now offering indoor cleaning to some East Palestine homes and businesses.

Anyone within the village of East Palestine limits, or within the 1-mile by 2-mile Ohio-Pennsylvania evacuation zone from the February train derailment, can get their homes and businesses cleaned.

“The indoor cleaning is being offered to address potential dust emissions that may have been generated as part of the train derailment and cleanup work to add an additional layer of comfort when returning to homes and places of business,” the EPA’s website states.

The website states that there is no evidence to suggest there is contamination of concern inside structures, however, independent testing results challenge that statement.

In July, scientist Scott Smith provided data from testing of furnace filters in homes close to the derailment site. The data shows of the 25 homes tested, 80-90% of them showed elevated dioxin levels. 

The EPA says it will not test inside homes but is now offering cleanup for those who wish to take advantage.

When will the cleaning be done?

Occupants currently relocated will have first priority to have their homes or place of business cleaned. Cleaning will then be offered to those west of Market Street, and lastly, homes and offices closest to the site will be cleaned.

This will also include those that were relocated that did not want cleaning at the beginning of this effort. Once cleaning is complete and signed off by the occupant at a home or office, cleaning will not be offered again.

What does the cleaning include?

Once the EPA has confirmed your home or office is eligible for the cleaning, a pre-cleaning interview with EPA and Norfolk Southern representatives will take place at your home or office to go over the cleaning approach and determine which rooms will be cleaned.

Cleaners will perform the following:

  • A top-down approach, starting from the top floor and working down
  • Addressing habitable spaces, vacuuming carpets, rugs, and other soft surfaces, dry dusting walls and other vertical surfaces, wet wiping horizontal hard surfaces such as countertops and floors.

Cleaners will not do the following:

  • Move any furniture
  • Open closets or drawers
  • Move or clean items identified by the owner/tenant as not to be touched
  • Clean any non-inhabitable rooms
  • Clean the exterior of the home or office (however, any special requests can go to the Norfolk Southern Family Assistance Center)

Basements or attics will be considered for cleaning if they are finished and habitable areas.

The EPA’s website states, “Per the recommendations of health agencies, duct cleaning is not necessary and will not be part of the cleaning under this program. However, if an individual in the village of East Palestine or in the 1-mile by 2-mile evacuation area would like to have their ducts cleaned separately, they may present a receipt for reimbursement to Norfolk Southern at the Family Assistance Center.”

Who will conduct the cleaning?

The cleaning will be paid for by Norfolk Southern. The EPA will provide oversight of the cleaning.

The cleaning will be carried out by workers contracted by Norfolk Southern who are trained and experienced with structure cleaning. Cleaning teams will wear the following: badges, identification clothing, safety vest, shoe covers, gloves (when appropriate for the task), and face coverings (upon request by the property owner or renter).

It will be expected to take less than one day.

There will be photos and videos taken as a requirement of the program.

You can find out more information about the cleaning by heading to the EPA’s website here.