Health Concerns Escalate After Ohio Train Disaster

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Phio train derailment

There is growing evidence pointing to serious health and environmental impacts from the derailment and explosion of a train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio.

Despite assurances from regulatory agencies that the area is safe, local residents are increasingly concerned as people have been falling sick and animals dropping dead.

After releasing more details about air and water contamination resulting from the crash, regulatory agencies like the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have continued to affirm that it is safe for residents – who were initially evacuated from their homes – to return.

They have been warned however not to drink the water.

The Defender reports: Since returning to their homes, some residents have complained of feeling ill. Others reported the death of wildlife and pets. Residents living as far as 10 miles away have found dead chickens in their yards. Residents also reported a strong lingering chemical smell in the area. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported at least 3,500 fish have died within a 7.5-mile radius of the crash site.

Then, on Friday, the EPA sent a letter to Norfolk Southern Railway Co. citing additional hazardous chemicals that “either are known to have been and continue to be released to the air, surface soils and surface waters.”

The chemicals were found through water sampling in the Ohio River — which provides drinking water for more than five million people — in storm drains and in soil.

Chemicals include ethylhexyl acrylate, an eye, skin and respiratory irritant that’s toxic to aquatic life; ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, a carcinogen that can be absorbed through the skin and cause liver and kidney damage; butyl acrylate, an extremely flammable chemical that can burn skin and eyes and cause permanent lung damage; and isobutylene, a highly flammable compound that can irritate eyes, nose and throat, and cause coma or death at high levels of exposure, Environmental Health News reported.

On Tuesday, 11 days after the crash, officials told residents to use bottled water until testing could confirm whether the local water supply was safe to drink because the Ohio EPA confirmed the presence of chemicals, including butyl acrylate, in the Ohio River Basin, potentially affecting up to 25 million people.

Ohio EPA Chief Tiffani Kavalec reported Tuesday that a chemical plume is moving down the Ohio River toward West Virginia.

Some residents concerned about the health effects filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, NPR reported.

Niamh Harris
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