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Evacuation Ban Lifted in East Palestine, Ohio After Norfolk Southern Train Derailed, Releasing Toxic Plumes in the Air

Government officials assured residents the water and air quality remains safe.
Government officials assured residents the water and air quality remains safe. (Photo: WKYC)

The evacuation order in East Palestine, Ohio, was lifted following the massive, fiery train derailment on the evening of February 3.

The Norfolk Southern train traveled from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Pennsylvania, when it suddenly derailed along the Ohio-Pennsylvania line. About 50 cars derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. Fox News reported that the derailment caused an explosion, including the ten cars carrying hazardous materials, sending toxic plumes. Evacuation orders were immediately released for residents within a 1-mile radius of the site.

Fifty cars of Norfolk Southern train derailed and exploded, ten cars carrying toxic chemicals.

Fifty cars of Norfolk Southern train derailed and exploded, ten cars carrying toxic chemicals. (Twitter | @belet_seri)

On February 3, a horrifying railroad accident took place. A Norfolk Southern freight train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. You might’ve seen images of the flames, but you probably haven’t heard that unions were trying to prevent this exact accident. 🧡

February 10, 2023

Vinyl Chloride was Burned Releasing Toxic Chemicals

Three days after the incident, authorities decided to release and burn vinyl chloride in the five tanker cars. Yahoo News reported that burning vinyl chloride produces hydrogen chloride and phosgene. Hydrogen chloride is a highly volatile substance that can bind with water vapor to form hydrochloric acid. On the other hand, phosgene is a highly toxic gas used as a chemical weapon during World War I. As written on the CDC’s toxicological profile, vinyl Chloride is also linked to several types of cancer and liver and neurological damage. The toxic chemical can leach into soil and groundwater and linger in the air.

Authorities decided to release and burn vinyl chloride, sending hydrochloric acid and phosgene into the air.

Authorities decided to release and burn vinyl chloride, sending hydrochloric acid and phosgene into the air. (Photo: ABC News)

Air and Water Quality Remains Safe

Meanwhile, government officials declared on February 8 that the Ohio-Pennsylvania area is safe, and residents can return home.

CBS News reported several residents are thrilled to be home, while some are still wary. Some residents have been tweeting about floating fish in rivers and dead chickens or pets.

However, environmental regulators monitoring the air and water in the community have insisted that drinking water supplies have not been affected and air quality remains safe. Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro’s office said that the air quality samples near the air and residential neighborhoods have consistently shown readings indicating no dangerous levels of toxins remain. Mayor Trent Conaway also assured that the drinking water system is monitored and tested daily.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has clarified that some toxic chemicals entered the waterways and killed fish, but the supplies for drinking water remain safe.

Residents who live near the derailment evacuation zone can contact the following numbers for assistance:

  • NS Family Assistance – 1-800-230-7049
  • Home Air Screening – 330-849-3913
  • Ohio EPA – 614-644-2160
  • US EPA – https://response.epa.gov/
  • CTEH Toxicology – 234-542-6474
  • Columbiana County – 330-967-7249
  • Community Action Agency – 330-424-4013

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