(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.
Hazardous Waste Removal
According to the Ohio EPA, approximately 7.9 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine in total. There is currently a pile of approximately 31,000 tons of excavated soil waiting for removal from East Palestine, versus 8,400 tons that have been removed.
Storm Water Management
Sulphur Run is being reinforced on the north side of the tracks as a precaution to prevent sediments from washing downstream during rain events.
Fire Equipment Grants
Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of State Fire Marshal announced the recipients of the 2023 Fire Department Equipment Grants. These grants have been awarded to 154 fire departments in 70 counties throughout the state totaling nearly 1.4 million dollars for protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus, communications, and other life-saving equipment. In Columbiana County, three volunteer fire departments were recipients of this funding: East Palestine, Leetonia and Highlandtown. See full list of awardees here.
Surveying First Responders/Resident Survey Update
Since Feb. 21, the Ohio Department of Health, in conjunction with federal partners, has been surveying East Palestine residents about any symptoms they are experiencing related to the derailment.
More recently, beginning on March 5, the health department began surveying those who were first responders to the derailment. The department held a roll-out meeting with various organizations to provide information and answer questions about the survey, and is reaching out through emails and flyers, as well, to encourage participation.
Both surveys are called ACE (after chemical exposure) surveys, but responders are asked several different questions, such as how many shifts they worked, as well as what PPE they may have worn.
Of 205 respondents, the top five symptoms first responders reported were:
- Stuffy nose/sinus congestion – 26.8%.
- Runny nose – 25.4%.
- Increased congestion/phlegm – 22.0%.
- Burning nose or throat – 20.5%.
- Hoarseness – 15.1%.
The community ACE survey now has been taken by 478 residents. They can take the survey through a healthcare provider or at the Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine.
The top five symptoms residents report have remained the same throughout the survey period:
- Headache – 76.2%.
- Anxiety – 61.7%.
- Coughing – 55.4%.
- Fatigue/tiredness – 53.1%.
- Irritation, pain, or burning of skin – 50.8%.
Private Well Testing
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 and the Columbiana County Health District received verified laboratory results from 3 additional samples from private water systems as of noon Thursday. Two of those wells showed no detectable contaminants. One well had trace detections at levels well below safe drinking-water standards. There is no evidence that any of those trace detections are linked to the train derailment.
In total, test results from 173 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.
Health Assessment Clinic
The Ohio Department of Health’s Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine, operating in partnership with the Columbiana County Health District, is operating on a walk-in basis. Residents should arrive at least an hour before closing to ensure there is enough time to be served.
Clinic hours for next week are:
Monday-Tuesday: Noon to 6 p.m.
Wednesday: Noon to 8 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The clinic is located at the First Church of Christ, 20 West Martin St. For information, call the Columbiana County Health District at 330-424-0272.
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/.
More Information and Previous Updates: ema.ohio.gov/eastpalestine