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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

East Palestine Update - 2/28/23




(EAST PALESTINE, Ohio)— The following are updates from the State of Ohio regarding remediation work at the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.


Severe Weather Impacts


Heavy rain in East Palestine on Monday resulted in increased water flow in the contaminated section of Sulphur Run, which remains dammed to the east and west. Any rainwater that enters the contaminated section of the creek is considered contaminated and vacuumed from the site.


Recent rains also caused minor damage to some containment, collection, and stream treatment systems which were expected to be fixed by the railroad today. According to the Ohio EPA, the damage may have caused a small amount of heavily diluted contaminants from Sulphur Run to enter Leslie Run.


Bulk Liquid Transfer


Norfolk Southern has reported that their onsite contaminated liquid storage bins are now approximately 90% full due to the recent rains, necessitating the use of a bulk transfer method for the contaminated liquid.


Contaminated liquid was previously removed from the derailment site by truck and transported directly to licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities. The new bulk disposal method still utilizes semi trucks to remove liquid wastewater from the derailment site, but instead of bringing the wastewater directly to the licensed hazardous waste disposal facilities, the trucks will now offload the wastewater, which is mostly water, into rail cars stationed at the rail yards in Lordstown, Ohio.


This bulk transfer method was approved by the federal and state authorities overseeing the incident response.


The Ohio EPA is overseeing the transfer of the liquid wastewater from the trucks to the rail cars. The U.S. EPA will determine the rail cars' destination and where the liquids will be disposed of.


Track Removal Plan


Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA are finalizing the process that Norfolk Southern will use to ensure the safe, complete, and effective cleanup of the hazardous waste under the train tracks at the derailment site. Track removal could begin as soon as tomorrow.


Private Well Sampling


Water sample results from private water systems of East Palestine area homes continue to show no harmful levels of contaminants.


The Ohio Department of Health, working with the Columbiana County Health District, today received verified laboratory results from 11 additional samples from private water systems as of noon Tuesday. Six of those wells showed no detectable contaminants. Five wells had trace detections at levels well below safe drinking-water standards. There is no evidence that these trace detections are linked to the train derailment.


In total, 126 private water wells in Ohio have been tested, and results have been returned for 30 of those wells, none of which showed evidence of contaminants linked to the train derailment.


Residents near East Palestine who would like their private water systems sampled should call 330-849-3919. As test results are returned, they will be posted at columbiana-health.org/resources/.


Air Monitoring


The U.S. EPA announced the deployment of a Trace Atmospheric Gas Analyzer mobile laboratory to conduct real-time air monitoring and air sampling analysis during the waste removal process.


To date, the U.S. EPA has not detected contaminants associated with the derailment while testing air quality within area homes. Those living in East Palestine who have not yet requested free air sampling can call 330-849-3919.


Wild Animal Necropsies


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will be submitting additional deceased wildlife to the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) for necropsies. Three raccoons, two muskrats, and one snapping turtle were all recently found dead in or around Sulphur Run.


Final necropsy results on four other animals previously submitted to the ADDL showed no findings to support chemical toxicity as a cause of death. Testing results from one six-week-old beef calf that died on February 11, 2023, are still pending.


Health Assessment Clinic


Hours for the Ohio Department of Health’s Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine this week are:


Wednesday-Thursday

12 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Friday

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Ohioans will not be called by Ohio Department of Health employees to complete a health assessment. If you receive a call, do not give the caller personal information.


The Health Assessment Clinic is located at the First Church of Christ, 20 West Martin St. The numbers to call to make appointments are 234-564-7755 or 234-564-7888.


More information and previous updates are available at ema.ohio.gov/eastpalestine.


Coping with Trauma


According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, traumatic events, such as the train derailment, can cause intense stress, anxiety, and worry, especially in the first several weeks following the event.


Local certified professionals are onsite at the East Palestine Mobile Health Clinic and are ready to assist anyone who has questions or concerns. In addition, any resident can call the Ohio CareLine at 1-800-720-9616 at any time of day for free, confidential, emotional support from a trained professional.


For more information about local behavioral health resources and providers, contact the Columbiana County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board at https://www.ccmhrsb.org/.

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