Residents in the East Palestine area of Ohio have been told for days by authorities that they can safely return home since a train of 150 cars carrying hazardous chemicals was derailed on February 3.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the chemical accident that caused the derailment has killed approximately 3,500 small fish in 7 1/2 miles of streams.
One North Lima resident, located more than 10 miles away from East Palestine, reported to WKBN-TV Youngstown that her five chickens and one rooster suddenly died Tuesday. To prevent an explosion, Norfolk Southern railroad operator had burnt train cars containing vinyl chloride (a flammable gas) the day before.
People who live close to the site of the derailment continue to be concerned about the possibility that their pets and animals could be exposed to soil, water, and air.
“Don’t tell me it’s safe. Something is going on if the fish are floating in the creek,” Cathey Reese, who lives in Negley, Ohio, told NBC affiliate WPXI of Pittsburgh last week. Reese said she saw dead fish in a stream that flows through her backyard.
Jenna Giannios (39), a Boardman wedding photographer, stated that she has been suffering from a persistent cough for the last week and a half. She said she has been drinking bottled water and is not comfortable using the water from the spigot in the bathroom.
She said, coughing all the while, “They only evacuated 1 mile from that area, and that’s just insane for me.” “I am concerned about the long-term health impact. It’s just chaos.”
The Environmental Protection Agency warned residents about possible lingering odors after the controlled burn. However, they noted that vinyl chloride byproducts can produce a smoky odor at lower levels than what is considered dangerous.
Ohio officials announced Wednesday that residents can return home if their air quality samples show levels below the safety threshold for contaminants of concern.
The EPA oversees the monitoring of air quality.
The EPA informed Norfolk Southern Friday that chemicals from the train “continued to be released into the air, surface soils, and surface waters”
According to the EPA, vinyl chloride was not detected in indoor air after it had screened 210 homes as of Saturday night. It said that 218 additional homes were still to be screened by the EPA as of Sunday.
Vinyl chloride is classified by the EPA as a carcinogen. Regular exposure can increase your risk of developing liver damage or cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term exposure can lead to drowsiness and loss of coordination.
East Palestine has set Wednesday’s emergency council meeting to address constituent concerns.
Andrew Whelton is a Purdue University professor of ecological and environmental engineering. He suggested that it could be possible that the burn produced additional compounds that the EPA may not be testing.
They created chemicals by combusting the materials. What did they create? He said.
Whelton also stated that other chemicals in the train could cause nausea, headaches, or skin irritation.
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The Kindred Spirits Rescue Ranch in Darlington, Pennsylvania evacuated 77 of its largest animals for two days.
Lisa Marie Sopko, the ranch’s founder said that they could see the plume rising and hovering over them. “Our eyes were burning and I could feel it in my face.”
Sopko stated that she is concerned about the current conditions. Sopko stated that the ranch has two wells. However, experts are yet to test them. Sopko explained that her team uses one well with a more advanced filtration system.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there is no risk to livestock.
It stated that it had not received any reports from ODA regarding the well-being of the animals involved in the incident.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation urges members to test the water at their local wells as soon as they can.
Nick Kennedy, the bureau’s organizing Director, stated that “the greatest concern is the water table at this point to see what level of exposure there has been.”
Kennedy said that farmers are sometimes frustrated. They just want answers. They might lose their livelihoods.
Laura Fauss is the Columbiana County Health District’s public information officer. She said that the department started groundwater sampling last Wednesday in partnership with the state Health Department and the state EPA, as well as contractors for Norfolk Southern.
Fauss stated that the results have not yet been returned and that she wasn’t sure when they would.
She stated that there have been no reports from residents experiencing unusual symptoms.
Giannios stated that she and other residents still haven’t answered all their questions, so she created a Facebook page for people to share their concerns.