Ohio Train Derailment Toxins Spread Across 16 States

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, spilling hazardous chemicals. In response, officials, with EPA approval, decided to burn 116,000 gallons of vinyl chloride, releasing a massive cloud of toxins into the air.

Recent findings show that these toxins spread far and wide, affecting 16 states from Wisconsin to North Carolina to Maine. Researchers found some of the highest levels of chloride recorded in the last 12 years. David Gay, a researcher from the University of Wisconsin, confirmed that this burn was responsible for the elevated chloride levels.

Initially, the EPA reported that contaminant levels were not dangerous, and residents were allowed to return home just three days after the derailment.

However, many East Palestine residents soon reported health issues like rashes and respiratory problems. Independent tests confirmed the presence of toxic chemicals in the soil, air, water, and even in residents’ blood, raising serious health concerns.

In March 2024, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) disclosed that the decision to conduct the burn was made with incomplete information. There were other options that could have minimized the release of toxins, but these were not considered. The NTSB criticized the poor communication and oversight that led to this decision.

As the community continues to grapple with the aftermath, many residents remain frustrated with how the situation was handled. The NTSB is planning to hold its final hearing on the derailment soon, aiming to address these concerns and prevent similar incidents in the future.

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