The environmental effects of the East Palestine train derailment and disaster have been felt as far away as Texas. Ohio officials shipped 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater, left over from firefighting efforts, to a company near Houston. That company, Texas Molecular, said it could handle the job. “Our technology safely removes hazardous constituents from the biosphere. We are part of the solution to reduce risk and protect the environment, whether in our local area or other places that need the capabilities we offer to protect the environment,” the company said in a statement.
Others, including Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, aren’t as confident. “It’s a very real problem. We were told yesterday the materials were coming, only to learn today they’ve been here for a week,” she remarked.
The health effects of the disaster in Ohio are impactful, real and wide-ranging. Toxic exposure illnesses are usually latent for decades. Because of this, many victims may not know if and when they develop serious illnesses, such as cancer, until their conditions are almost untreatable. An Ohio train derailment attorney must utilize facts, not speculation, to build a strong case for damages. The facts in this tragic case are still unfolding, but here’s what we know so far:
Mechanical Failure Probably Caused the Derailment
The federal investigation won’t be complete for another few weeks, but early signs point to a faulty wheel bearing.
Surveillance video from a home near the crash site recorded “what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment,” federal investigators said in mid-February 2023.
Officials Intentionally Leaked Chemicals
As firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, they worried that rising temperatures might cause an explosion.
Ultimately, officials decided to pursue a “controlled release” of the volatile vinyl chloride. Because burning vinyl chloride can cause the production of other toxic chemicals, including hydrogen chloride and phosgene, officials ordered the evacuation of a one-by-two-mile area around East Palestine, on both sides of the state line.
Don’t Drink Well Water
EPA tests revealed that local creek water was laced with ethyl hexyl acrylate and butyl acrylate, two toxic chemicals aboard the ill-fated Norfolk Southern train that rumbled through East Palestine. Reports of officials who tested the municipal water supply stated that the drinking water, however, was safe.
Possible Health Effects
Five derailed cars carried vinyl chloride. Inhalation of this sweet-smelling, colorless gas causes respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath, along with neurological symptoms, including headaches and dizziness. Chronic exposure to high levels of vinyl chloride are known to cause liver damage and cancer.
One tanker car lost its entire load of butyl acrylate, a clear liquid used to make paint, adhesives and caulk. Exposure to butyl acrylate can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and irritation to the nose, throat and lungs.
The EPA tested outdoor air in East Palestine and indoor air at about 500 homes and reported that there was no cause for concern. Residents, however, continue to report foul smells in their homes and in the surrounding community, leading some to fear that the chemicals are still being inhaled.
According to the Bruce Venerhoff of the Ohio Department of Health, “by the time we were at the decision point for potentially bringing people who had evacuated back into an impacted area, we had on hand air testing that told us that the air really looked pretty much like it did before this event ever happened.” Again residents are wary.
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