Ohio Train Derailment Releasing Toxic Chemicals Raises Alarm Bells

Posted originally on the CTH on February 13, 2023 | Sundance

At approximately 8:55pm on February 3rd a major train derailment happened near the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania. In an Ohio town called East Palestine, a Norfolk Southern train pulling 150 cars derailed. 20 of those cars were carrying hazardous materials, including a liquified substance called “Vinyl Chloride.”

A massive explosion and fire resulted from the derailment and the nature of the cargo. In an effort to mitigate the problem, responding emergency authorities dug a trench and allowed the chemicals to burn off into the atmosphere. However, vinyl chloride turns into hydrochloric acid when it mixes with water vapor. The resulting chemical toxins can travel with wind, forming toxic clouds.

Several people in the downwind region from the initial explosion have reported health issues. Additionally, animals and fish have been reported to have been killed in the zone where the chemical cloud traveled.

There is now increasing concern about longer term impacts from the release of the chemicals including vinyl chloride.

Norfolk Southern and the EPA released the full list of chemicals that were being transported, they include:

Vinyl chloride: a colorless gas that is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and is highly flammable and decomposes to make toxic fumes. According to the National Library of Medicine, it is also carcinogenic and can cause other health issues.

Butyl acrylate: a clear liquid that is used for making paints, sealants and adhesives. It is flammable and can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation.

Ethylhexyl acrylate: a colorless liquid used to make paints and plastics. It can cause skin and respiratory irritation and, under moderate heat, can produce hazardous vapor.

Ethylene glycol monobutyl: a colorless liquid used as a solvent for paint and inks, as well as some dry-cleaning solutions. It is classed as acutely toxic, able to cause serious or permanent injury, and highly flammable. Vapors can irritate the eyes and nose, and ingestion can cause headaches and vomiting. (source)

According to NewsWeek, “Kirk Kollar of the Ohio EPA said the levels of toxic chemicals observed in nearby waterways “were immediately toxic to fish,” and that spilt material had leaked into Sulphur Run. Lesley Run, Little Beaver Creek and the Ohio River were being monitored.”

The U.S. EPA said on Friday that Norfolk Southern contractors had installed a dam and a water bypass at Sulphur Run to prevent further contamination and had also stopped the remaining spilled chemicals entering the stream.  The EPA is working with the Ohio EPA to investigate soil contamination at the derailment site.” (more)

(SOURCE – HHS, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry)

The video embeds in the tweets below are additionally concerning and informative:

The White House and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have been silent on the issue.

People in the affected communities, which are now quite diverse due to the wind travel of the chemicals, are rightly concerned and apparently not getting enough information from anyone about the potential for longer term health issues.

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