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East Palestine Derailment Spread Chemicals to 16 US States, Study Says

© AP Photo / Matt FreedA view of the scene Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, as the cleanup continues at the site of of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that happened on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio
A view of the scene Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, as the cleanup continues at the site of of a Norfolk Southern freight train derailment that happened on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.06.2024
Norfolk agreed to pay a $600 million settlement in April 2024, to resolve a class action lawsuit for claims within a “20-mile radius from the derailment” as well as personal injury claims within a “10-mile radius from the derailment”, ABC News reported in April.
In February of 2023, a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in a village between the US states of Pennsylvania and Ohio named East Palestine. And according to a new study, the toxic spill from that derailment and subsequent fire resulted in emissions of “large amounts” that polluted at least 16 states in the US.
In a study published on Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters, researchers found that toxic chemicals from the crash washed over areas from South Carolina to Wisconsin to New England. The pollution spread to over 540,000 square miles worth of land which is 14% of US land area.
“I didn’t expect to see an impact this far out,” said David Gay, lead author of the study. “There’s more going on here than most people would have guessed, including me.”
Because the cars were carrying 115,580 gallons of flammable gas, officials decided to authorize a controlled release and burn of the chemicals due to fear that there would be an explosion. But not only did the derailment spew toxic chemicals into the air, soil, creeks and lakes of East Palestine, the researchers estimate that 110 million Americans were impacted by the pollution.
Eleven of the derailed cars were transporting hazardous materials, five of which were vinyl chloride. Several other cars contained ethyl acrylate and isobutylene, which are considered to be possibly carcinogenic as well as toxic, ABC News reported, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH).
A screenshot of a video showing a plume of smoke after a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.02.2023
Derailed Train Causes Massive Fire in East Palestine, Ohio - Photos, Videos
In their study, the researchers analyzed rain and snow water samples in the week of the derailment as well as the week after. The samples were collected at 260 sites from surrounding states of the accident. Many of the samples showed soot, ash and dirt and researchers found “exceptionally elevated levels” of chloride as far as Virginia, South Carolina and Wisconsin.
“It’s not death and destruction. It’s fairly low concentrations, but they are very high relative to the normal that we typically see — some of the highest we’ve measured in the last 10 years,” Gay said.
The study also revealed an unexpected phenomenon. According to Gay, rain without pollutants is slightly acidic and carries with it a reasonable amount of hydrogen ions. But the collected samples showed less hydrogen ions than normal - metals that were omitted during the fire somehow consumed much of the rain’s hydrogen ions, he explains.
Dr. Erin Haynes, chair of the University of Kentucky's Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, surveyed about 400 adults following the train's derailment. She found that three of four residents had suffered some health impact following the derailment, including symptoms of: nose and eye irritation, coughing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and feeling weak or tired. One East Palestine resident said she had ear pain and blood in her ears as well as hair loss.
Workers at disaster zone in East Palestine, Ohio. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.03.2023
East Palestine Residents Reportedly Suffering From ‘Chemical Bronchitis’ After Train Derailment
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