While officials have repeatedly tried to reassure residents that the water and air in East Palestine, Ohio are safe after train derailment transport of hazardous materials earlier this month, alarm gripped the community amid reports of rash, nausea and headaches.
The state is now planning to open a clinic in East Palestine on Tuesday for residents concerned about possible symptoms associated with the crash, and the Biden administration has announced the move. sent experts to help assess what hazards remain in the district after the governor of Ohio. Mike DeWine requested medical teams from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Department of Health.
It’s been over two weeks since the vinyl chloride train derailed in a small community of less than 5,000 people, igniting an entire day of hellfire and prompting crews to detonate the toxic chemical to prevent a potentially fatal explosion.
The explosions raised a black cloud of smoke over the area, where the chemical stench lingered for several days. Although it was considered safe for the evacuated residents Return home February 8Community members wondered how safe their village was and the validity of the air and water tests.
US Senator Sherrod Brown said residentsthe right to be a skeptic“.
“We think the water is safe,” Brown told CNN, citing comments from administrators of state and federal environmental protection agencies. “But when you get back to your house, you must check your water again, your soil and your air, not to mention those who have their own wells.”
Air quality tests in more than 530 homes found no pollutants. United States Environmental Protection Agency Sunday said.
In terms of water, vinyl chloride was not detected in any of the sloping waterways near the train wreck, EPA spokeswoman Tiffany Kavalek said. told CNN Last week
And while some waterways in the area have been polluted, killing thousands of fish downstream, officials have said they believe these pollutants can be contained.
After the crews discovered the contaminated drain Booms and dams have been installed on Norfolk Southern’s two surface water streams, Sulfur Run and Leslie Run, to limit the flow of polluted water, according to the EPA.
However, despite officials’ assurances that the water is safe, some residents are too afraid to drink from the tap, and bottled water is being handed out in the city.
Desiree Walker – 19-year-old resident a city dweller who lives only 900 feet from the crash site – said CNN affiliate WOIO that she refuses to let her children drink water for fear that it could have long-term health consequences.
“There is a big problem because they are young. They have their whole lives ahead of them,” Walker said. “I don’t want it to affect them in the future. I want them to live long and happy lives.”
Walker said her family is feeling symptoms but doctors are telling them they don’t know what to check for.
“Especially at night, we feel it the most,” she told the station. “We have a sore throat, we are coughing a lot now. My son, his eyes are confused.
When anger and frustration boiled over in a small town, Hundreds of residents of East Palestine visited the town hall last week to raise concerns about air and water safety in their community.
Residents reported various problems, including rashes, sore throats, nausea and headaches, and shared concerns that the symptoms could potentially be related to chemicals released after the train derailed.
“Why do people get sick if there is nothing in the air and water,” one of the residents shouted during the meeting.
Isla Antoniazzi and her family returned to their home less than a mile from the crash site the day after the evacuation order was canceled. The mother made sure to air out the house and wash all the linen before bringing the children home.
“But the next day when they woke up, they were out of their minds,” Antoniazzi said. “My eldest had a rash on her face. The younger one did too, but not as bad. A 2-year-old girl held her eye and complained that her eye hurt. She was very lethargic, so I took them back to my parents’ house.”
The Ohio Department of Health clinic opened on Tuesday is intended to help East Palestine recover from the incident, officials said. The agency said the clinic would have registered nurses, mental health professionals and, occasionally, a toxicologist.
“I heard you, the state heard you, and now the Ohio Department of Health and many of our partner agencies are providing this clinic where people can come and discuss these life-saving issues with health care providers,” said Department Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff.
The decision to conduct controlled explosions at the crash site on February 6 also raised skepticism and questions about safety.
Officials said the move was intended to prevent an explosion at the crash site by releasing toxic gas. vinyl chloride gas and burn it in a pit, from which a thick column of smoke rose over the city.
Vinyl chloride, a man-made substance used to make PVC, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches, and has been linked to an increased risk of liver, brain, lung, and blood cancers.
Burning vinyl chloride gas can decompose into compounds including hydrogen chloride and phosgene, a chemical weapon used during World War I as suffocating agentaccording to United States Environmental Protection Agency and CDC.
After the explosion, crews checked the air for hazardous chemicals, including phosgene and hydrogen chloride. as well as butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether acetate, and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate according to the EPA and reported that the data were normal.
Currently, work is underway to clear the crash site.
The train operator, Norfolk Southern, is “dismantling and removing rail cars at the derailment site, excavating contaminated sites, removing contaminated fluids from affected storm drains, and placing collected waste for transportation to an approved disposal facility,” the Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday. . environment.
“Air monitoring and sampling will continue until the removal of heavily contaminated soil from the crash area is completed and odors are eliminated from the community,” the agency said in a statement.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg sent a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw on Sunday demanding accountability and calling for tougher safety regulations.
“The people of East Palestine cannot be forgotten, and their pain cannot simply be considered a cost of doing business,” Buttigieg wrote to the railroad director.
“You have previously indicated to me that you are committed to fulfilling your responsibilities to this community, but it is clear that the people of this area are not satisfied with the information, presence and support they receive from South Norfolk after and after recovery,” Buttigieg added.
Brown also pledged to hold the railroad company accountable for its impact on the community, saying in a press conference that he would “make sure Norfolk Southern does what it says it’s going to do, what it’s been promised.”
“All cleaning, all drilling, all testing, all hotel stays, all in South Norfolk. They caused it, there is no doubt they caused it,” Brown said, adding that the total cost could be tens or hundreds of millions of dollars.
Norfolk Southern CEO releases open letter The Sabbath says to the people of East Palestine, “I hear you” and “We are here and will stay here for as long as it takes to keep you safe and help East Palestine recover and prosper.”
“Together with local health authorities, we have implemented a comprehensive testing program to ensure water, air and soil safety in East Palestine,” Shaw said in the letter, adding that the company has also set up a $1 million fund “as a down payment.” .” about our commitment to helping with recovery.”