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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons

East Palestine Update - 3/1/23




(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.


Governor DeWine, First Lady DeWine Visit East Palestine


Governor Mike DeWine and First Lady Fran DeWine visited East Palestine today to see the hazardous waste removal process firsthand. They visited the derailment site where work is underway to remove contaminated soil and they also visited the confluence of Leslie Run and Sulphur Run for an update on surface water testing and cleanup.


Hazardous Waste Removal


According to the Ohio EPA, approximately 1.8 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine in total.


Approximately 150,000 gallons have been shipped to Vickery Environmental in Vickery, Ohio, to be disposed of through deep well injection.

Approximately 1.4 million gallons have been shipped to Texas Molecular in Deer Park, Texas, to be disposed of through deep well injection.

Approximately 300,000 gallons have been hauled to Detroit Industrial Well in Romulus, Michigan to be disposed of through deep well injection.


The Ohio EPA reports that approximately 700 tons of solid waste have also left the derailment site.


Ross Incineration Services in Grafton, Ohio, has received approximately 40 tons to be incinerated.

Approximately 200 tons have been hauled to Heritage Thermal Services in East Liverpool, Ohio, to be incinerated.

Approximately 400 tons have been shipped t o U.S. Ecology Wayne Disposal in Belleville, Michigan, to be placed in a landfill.


Hazardous Waste and Derailment Response Training


Governor DeWine announced today that he has spoken with the CEOs of both Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads about the need for increased train derailment response training for first responders.


Because most rail miles in Ohio are in rural areas, volunteer firefighters are most likely to be the first on scene to a train derailment. However, there is currently very little training for volunteers on responding to trail derailments


Governor DeWine reported that the CEOs of both railroads were in favor of working with the State of Ohio to increase railroad-specific training for Ohio's first responders.


Governor DeWine also announced today that the Ohio Public Utilities Commission currently has up to $800,000 in grant funding available to help Ohio's smaller fire departments pay for critically important training.


Today through May 31, PUCO will be taking applications for their annual hazardous materials training grant program. Among the opportunities funded through this program are “rail hazardous materials response training” and hazardous material incident response.


Funding for these grants is from fines paid by hazardous material carriers and shippers. More information is available at puco.ohio.gov.


Railway Safety Act of 2023


Today, Senators J.D. Vance and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, as well as Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Josh Hawley (MO), introduced the Railway Safety Act of 2023 in the United States Senate.


The legislation would:


Require rail carriers to give advance notice to state emergency response officials before running trains carrying hazardous materials;

Mandate trains run with at least two-person crews;

Require better monitoring of railcar wheel bearings — which overheated in the Ohio train accident, according to the NTSB, and likely caused the train to jump the tracks; and

Increase penalties for wrongdoing in the industry.


"Over the course of my response to Norfolk Southern’s train derailment disaster, I have called upon Congress to take action regarding federal rail regulations, including looking at the safety issues the East Palestine derailment has raised. I have also called on Congress to change regulations to ensure states are notified when trains carrying hazardous materials are running through those states. Federal statutes pre-empt regulations by the states, so it is important that action is taken by Congress," said Governor DeWine. "I want to thank Senators Vance and Brown and the other co-sponsors for answering my call for Congress to act swiftly. Because our railways are largely regulated at the federal level, I thank the Senators, as well as Congressman Bill Johnson in the House, for working collaboratively with my administration and answering our call for action in Congress."


Track Removal Plan


Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA continue work to finalize 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 has not yet begun, but work could begin this week.


Municipal Water Testing Update


New lab results show East Palestine’s municipal water supply continues to show no detection of contaminants associated with the train derailment. The municipal water samples were taken by contractors on February 21 from all five of the city’s wells. Ohio EPA also took samples on February 21 and sent the samples to a separate lab. Ohio EPA's test results are pending.


Sediment Washing


Ohio EPA continues to see positive results from the sediment washing process that is underway in Sulphur Run and Leslie Run. The washing has produced a visible reduction in floating contaminants in the water. The method to capture contaminants is now shifting focus to dissolved contaminants. Work points along the creeks are being condensed but will have increased aeration. The aeration promotes a natural breakdown of the dissolved contaminants.


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, had received verified laboratory results from 15 additional samples from private water systems as of noon Wednesday. Thirteen of those wells showed no detectable contaminants. Two wells had trace detections at levels well below safe drinking-water standards.


There is no evidence that any those trace detections are linked to the train derailment.


In total, 136 private systems have been sampled through Tuesday, Feb. 28. Of those, test results from 45 samples have been verified, and none have shown any harmful contaminant levels associated with the derailment.


The results can be found on the Columbiana County Health Department site at https://www.columbiana-health.org/resources/.


Residents near East Palestine who would like their private water system sampled should call 330-849-3919.


Air Monitoring


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.


Student Services


Governor DeWine is also announcing that the Learning Aid Ohio program, which provides in-home support services for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to supplement the services they receive in schools, is reserving dedicated slots for children in Columbiana County who have been impacted by the Norfolk Southern train derailment. Learning Aid Ohio provides families with financial resources to cover the costs of certain in-home support services, such as tutoring, occupational therapy, or physical therapy, to help children catch-up and succeed academically. Learning Aid Ohio is also always recruiting providers to support enrolled learners. For additional information on the program, families and providers can visit LearningOhio.com. Columbiana County families with questions may email learningohio@dsaco.net


Health Assessment Clinic


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


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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