Residents return Home and Schools Reopen amid fears of Toxic Chemical contamination
For days after a 150-car train carrying dangerous chemicals derailed on February 3, officials told residents of the East Palestinian region of Ohio that it was safe to go home. .
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said a chemical spill caused by the derailment had killed an estimated 3,500 small fish in a 7.5-mile creek as of Wednesday.
Also, Residents return Home and Schools Reopen amid fears of Toxic Chemical contamination
“Don’t tell me it’s safe. When a fish swims in a stream, something’s going on,” Kathy Reese of Negley, Ohio, told Pittsburgh-based NBC affiliate WPXI last week. Reese said she saw dead fish in the stream that ran through her garden.
Giannios, her 39-year-old Jenna, who is a wedding photographer in nearby Boardman, said that for the past week and a half she had been coughing persistently. She said she drinks bottled water and finds it uncomfortable to bathe in water from the bathroom faucet.
“They took refuge in this room only a mile from her. It’s just unbelievable to me,” she said, coughing throughout the conversation. “I worry about the long-term health effects. It’s just a mess.
After the controlled burn, the Environmental Protection Agency warned area residents of possible lingering odors but noted that the byproducts of vinyl chloride can emit smells at levels lower than what is considered hazardous.
Ohio officials said Wednesday that residents could return home after air quality samples “showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern.”
The EPA, which is overseeing the air quality testing, said, “Air monitoring since the fire went out has not detected any levels of concern in the community that can be attributed to the incident at this time.”
However, the EPA said Friday in a letter to Norfolk Southern that chemicals carried on the train “continue to be released to the air, surface soils, and surface waters.”
The EPA said that as of Saturday evening, it had screened the indoor air in 210 homes and hadn’t detected vinyl chloride. Another 218 homes had yet to be screened as of Sunday, it said.
The EPA classifies vinyl chloride as a carcinogen; routine exposure could increase one’s risk of liver damage or liver cancer. Short-term exposure to high concentrations can cause drowsiness, loss of coordination, disorientation, nausea, headache or burning or tingling, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eastern Palestine has scheduled an emergency board meeting on Wednesday to address voter concerns.
Andrew Welton, a professor of environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University, said combustion could produce additional compounds that the EPA may not have tested.