DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine provided an update on the East Palestine train derailment on Tuesday, Feb. 14.
On Feb. 3, approximately 50 cars derailed due to a broken axle in East Palestine. Ten of the cars carried hazardous materials, NewsNation reported.
Several days later, authorities burned vinyl chloride inside five tanker cars, which sent hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air. While both of these substances are known carcinogens, authorities said that the burn was preferable to the threat of a larger explosion if nothing was done.
Several other chemicals were also released into the area.
Our partners at WKBN report that a hazardous material specialist, Silverado Caggiano, recommends that anyone in the East Palestine area should get a health check-up.
“There’s a lot of what ifs, and we’re going to be looking at this thing 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line and wondering, ‘Gee, cancer clusters could pop up, you know, well water could go bad,” Caggiano said.
On Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 3 p.m., DeWine gave an update on the derailment alongside other Cabinet officials.
During the conference, health officials said that residents in the affected area should use bottled water, especially those on private wells. Those on private wells can call 330-849-3919 to get their well tested free of charge. Bottled water will also be provided to those who call the number and request it.
Officials from ODNR and the Ohio Environmental protection Agency said that while some contaminants did flow into the Ohio river, they are actively tracking the plume and towns are able to shut down their intake from the river and/or treat the water to ensure it is safe for residents to drink. These contaminants came from the original fire, and have not increased since.
ODNR said that the initial flow of contaminants did kill approximately 3500 fish in the affected waterways, however, these numbers have not continued to increase. ODNR did say that none of the affected species were listed as threatened or endangered, however, they will continue to monitor the situation.
The Ohio Department of Health said that while residents may be able to smell chemicals in the air, levels have been measured to be similar if not the same as before the derailment. Dr. Vanderhoff did say that while the smell should not cause any long-term health effects, even safe levels of the chemical can cause common symptoms like headaches. Anyone reporting symptoms they believe to be caused by this is encouraged to contact their primary care physician, and call the hotline to request testing for their well systems.
DeWine said that the community can expect regular updates from his office in the coming days.
You can watch the press conference in the video player above.