YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Officials say the smell of chlorine outside is not toxic or dangerous, but that Valley residents should still use caution regarding the outdoors for the time being.
The Mahoning County HAZMAT Team is advising that Valley residents stay indoors as a precautionary measure following the controlled release of the train derailment in East Palestine.
Residents across the Valley — including Mahoning, Trumbull counties and beyond — have been reporting a smell like chlorine, bleach, nail polish remover or chemicals following the detonation of the train carrying chemicals that derailed on Friday.
The Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA completed air sampling throughout Mahoning County and read no reportable contamination in the air.
Officials with Boardman are “strongly recommending” that residents stay indoors, though more as a precautionary measure.
“All the special monitoring is not picking up any dangerous readings at all. Nothing at all. All we have is an odor. Yes it is unpleasant to say the least. But that is all it is. Not dangerous at all. We will continue the recommended shelter in place for peace of mind over night and resume normal activity in the morning,” says Boardman fire Chief Mark Pitzer.
Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency deputy director Robin Lees says while out with the Environmental Protection Agency performing air quality checks in Mahoning County, they’ve found the air to not be toxic.
“What we’re saying now is — just as a precautionary measure — to shelter in place and use some common sense. I wouldn’t advise going outside and engaging in any exercise or any strenuous activity,” says Lees.
Lees says local jurisdictions will be left to decide what, if any, additional precautions they’ll take moving forward.
Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti says he’s been in contact with the HAZMAT team throughout the day Monday. He says the winds have shifted, causing the plume of smoke from the detonation to spread north.
“If people have lung issues, my advice would be to stay in until we get further notice,” Traficanti says.
Springfield Township Fire and Rescue has posted that it’s advising all residents to shelter in place as a precaution “until we can determine what exactly is going on with the air quality within our township.”
“We ask that you remain calm and remember this is only being done as a precaution to keep you, our residents, safe,” the post from Springfield Township Fire and Rescue says.
According to Lees, the odor people have been noticing is most likely the results of burning plastic and other materials from the train cars.
“A lot of times, something smells bad but doesn’t necessarily carry anything dangerous with it,” Lees said. “We’re hoping that we continue to get those clear results through the rest of the evening and be able to move forward from there.”