EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN)— Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s office sent out updates on the East Palestine train derailment and the clean-up work that is currently underway.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, DeWine sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requesting that the agency send medical experts to East Palestine to evaluate and counsel members of the community who have questions and/or are experiencing symptoms.
DeWine also provided updates from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Agriculture:
In anticipation of rainfall, emergency response teams have put plans in place to prevent contaminants that have not yet been removed from the derailment site from washing into local waterways during the storms.
Sulphur Run has been dammed both west of the crash site and east of the crash site, leaving an empty creek bed between the two dams in the area of the crash. Teams are pumping clean creek water from the point of the eastern dam, funneling it away from the dry creek bed area, and releasing it back into Sulphur Run at the western dam.
According to the Ohio EPA, this allows clean water to bypass the area of the derailment and prevents clean creek water from picking up contaminants and carrying them into other waterways.
It’s also supposed to control any contaminated rainwater runoff, which will run into the dry creek bed where it will be removed and remediated.
Residents in East Palestine may have noticed visible emissions in the area of the derailment on Wednesday. According to the Ohio EPA, the railroad was using steam to heat a damaged railcar containing paraffin wax. The melted wax was transported into another tank without being exposed to the air.
Ohio River chemical plume
The chemical plume of butyl acrylate in the Ohio River is currently located near Gallipolis, Ohio, and will be near Huntington, West Virginia, sometime Friday, according to the Ohio EPA. The EPA says testing results indicate that the chemical is currently present at levels below 3 parts per billion, which is well below the 560 parts per billion that the CDC considers hazardous.
No vinyl chloride has been detected in the Ohio River.
Butyl acrylate’s water-solubility makes it harder to contain because it is absorbed by water (similar to sugar in water) instead of staying separate from water (similar to oil and water). For this reason, some butyl acrylate slipped beyond mitigation dams and booms and into the Ohio River.
Aeration points have been added to further remove the butyl acrylate from the water, which has been effective in decreasing chemical levels, according to the EPA.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and other agencies along the river are actively sampling water at strategic locations and are closing drinking water intakes in advance of the plume to prevent any butyl acrylate from entering the drinking water.
The U.S. EPA has been monitoring air purity in the East Palestine area. The latest air monitoring results provided by the U.S. EPA continue to show no presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the train crash.
Similarly, the U.S. EPA reports that it is not detecting any airborne phosgene or mineral acids, which were chemicals of concern directly related to the controlled burn process. Because these substances have not been detected, and because emissions from the controlled release have dissipated, the U.S. EPA has stopped air monitoring for these two specific contaminants.
Residents in and around the area may notice a smell from the site. According to the Ohio EPA, this is because some of the contaminants that were released into the environment have a low odor threshold, which means that these contaminants can be smelled at levels much lower than what is considered hazardous.
To date, the U.S. EPA and an independent contractor have tested the air inside 474 homes for the presence of VOCs released from the train derailment. Apart from the derailment, VOCs are generally present in things, such as paint, flooring, carpet, furniture and cigarette smoke.
Although the testing in approximately 75 homes did show elevated levels of VOCs, further testing found that contaminants of concern from the derailment (vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride) were not present in these homes, according to the EPA.
Thirty additional homes are scheduled to be tested Thursday, and testing appointments continue to be scheduled. A total of 43 homes have canceled their requests for air quality testing.
Air quality testing is voluntary for residents in East Palestine. To request home air testing, call 330-849-3919.
- Contaminated soil: To date, 3,150 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed from the area of the derailment. This soil has been moved into containers and stockpiled for proper disposal, according to the EPA.
Once the impacted soil is removed, the remaining soil is covered with mulch to absorb any additional seepage and to absorb the chemicals. The mulch is regularly replaced to ensure continued absorption. The chemical-laden mulch is then stockpiled for proper disposal.
The process to remove contaminated soil and control seepage will continue.
- Contaminated water: Although most contaminants did not enter local waterways, contaminants are pooling at the derailment site in puddles and ditches, according to the EPA. A total of 942,000 gallons of contaminants and contaminated liquid have been removed from the immediate site. It is estimated that 110,000 gallons of contaminants at the site will be removed for proper disposal within the next 24 hours.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has not received any additional reports of deceased wildlife. The total estimated number of aquatic animals killed remains at approximately 3,500. Those animals were found in Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek and a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek.
Most of the fish appear to be small suckers, minnows, darters and sculpin. Most of these deaths are believed to have been caused by the immediate release of contaminants into the water, prior to mitigation efforts put in place following the crash, according to ODNR.
ODNR has not found any evidence of continued risk to aquatic life, but officers will continue sampling waterways.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture has received tissue samples from one six-week-old beef calf that died on February 11 in an area located approximately two miles from East Palestine. ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory is performing a diagnostic work-up to determine if a cause of death can be identified.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture continues to assure Ohioans that its food supply is safe and the risk to livestock remains low following the East Palestine train derailment.
According to the Department of Agriculture, there is no information to suggest that pets are not safe outside, but if pet owners believe their domestic animals are sick as a result of the train derailment, they are asked to contact their local veterinarian.
East Palestine residents who are struggling with anxiety and stress related to the derailment or are in need of emotional support may call the Ohio Careline at 1-800-720-9616 anytime 24/7 to talk with trained specialists for free, confidential support.
Additional information related to the cleanup process, including water and air sampling information and previous updates can be found at ema.ohio.gov/eastpalestine.