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East Palestine Train Derailment: Timeline of Events

Ohio Environmental Council, February 18, 2023

This timeline has been updated with the latest information we’ve gathered. Please email with questions.

[Last Updated: October 18, 2023]

October 18, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern has been order to conduct more testing in East Palestine by the U.S. EPA.

September 29, 2023

  • Huntington, WV received some wastewater from East Palestine for additional purification.

September 26, 2023

  • Ohio U.S. Senator’s ask U.S. EPA to declare a public health emergency in East Palestine.

September 25, 2023

  • U.S. EPA Office of the Inspector General released the report regarding the EPA’s response to the derailment.

September 21, 2023

  • President Biden issues an executive order to make Norfolk Southern responsible for the clean up of the derailment.

April 10, 2023

  • A truck carrying contaminated soil from the derailment site overturned. Spilling 20,000 pounds of soil.
  • New primary care clinic opens in East Palestine.

April 3, 2023

  • U.S. Senators from Ohio and Pennsylvania joined together to send a letter to the National Institutes of health asking for investigation into the effects of the chemicals spilled.

March 31, 2023

  • The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern.

March 29, 2023

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General’s office launches investigation into the agency’s response following the derailment.

March 28, 2023

  • U.S. House of Representatives held hearing to discuss environmental response following the East Palestine train derailment.

March 23, 2023

  • To date, the U.S. EPA reports that soil sampling results show typical levels of toxins.

March 22, 2023

  • U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation had a hearing about the derailment and subsequent cleanup process.

March 21, 2023

  • Governor DeWine sent a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO asking him to support the bi-partisan rail safety legislation.

March 20, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern stockholders sue the company for allegedly violating federal securities laws.
  • Norfolk Southern stockholders sue the company for allegedly violating federal securities laws.
  • Ohio Department of health released the top five symptoms that first responders reported.
  • Pennsylvania Governor releases plans for long term resident assistance.

March 17, 2023

  • Alarming levels of cancer-causing dioxins found in the soil of East Palestine.
  • U.S. EPA warns states that they can’t block disposal of hazardous waste in their state.

March 16, 2023

  • The entireity of the south train tracks have been removed. Soil beneath is undergoing testing prior to replacement.
  • The Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate.

March 14, 2023

  • Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announces lawsuit against Norfolk Southern.
  • Norfolk Southern claims to be developing a long-term medical compensation fund for the residents of East Palestine.
  • Ohio Department of Health reports private water wells show no harmful levels of contaminants.

March 11, 2023

  • Protestor’s gather in Lisbon to express their anger about Norfolk Southern’s response to the disaster.

March 10, 2023

  • Governor Dewine calls for immediate authorization from the U.S. EPA for waste removal from East Palestine.
  • U.S. EPA and Norfolk Southern contractors began sampling soil in high priortiy areas around East Palestine.
  • Water well testing done by Ohio EPA reveals no contaminants were found that were associated with known hazardous materials.

March 9, 2023

  • U.S. EPA holds a Resource Fair for East Palestine residents to ask agency representatives questions.
  • Ohio Department of Agriculture holds roundtable discussion with farmers about soil health in their area.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency gives Governor DeWine more time to think about asking President Biden for a disaster declaration.

March 8, 2023

  • The Federal Railroad Administration will review the safety aduit of Norfolk Southern and make suggested improvements.
  • Pennsylvania State Senate subpoenas Norfolk Southern CEO to discuss the company’s response to the train derailment.
  • Ohio EPA launches a new dashboard to display water testing results.
  • During a committee hearing, Norfolk southern did not communicate to officials what hazardous materials were in the railcars until hours after emergency responders had already been on scene.

March 7, 2023

  • Columbiana County health center recieved $250,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

March 6, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern announces a 6-point plan for increased railway safety.
  • A first look at testing results on the death of 4 raccoons, a muskrat, and a snapping turtle show no evidence for chemical toxicity as the cause of death.

March 5, 2023

  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration is hearing concerns over cleanup worker safety.

March 4, 2023

  • The Brightside Project provided food, cleaning supplies, and other items to the residents of East Palestine.

March 3, 2023

  • U.S. EPA orders Norfolk Southern to test for Dioxins.
  • U. S. Congressman Bill Johnson introduces The East Palestine Tax Relief Act.

March 2, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern CEO has donated $445,000 to set up a scholarship fund for East Palestine high school seniors.
  • National Transportation Safety Board found that some of the tank cars were made with aluminum protective housing covers that were over 30 years old.
  • 370 tons of solid waste transported nearby in East Liverpool, OH.
  • Congress introduces the Railway Safety Act of 2023 that tightens safety regulations and increases frequency of inspections.
  • Community had its third town hall meeting.
  • Governor DeWine requested a 120-day extension to have the ability to submit a major disaster declaration request at a later date if necessary.

March 1, 2023

  • New safety provisions were added to increase railroad safety in the transportation budget passed by the Ohio House.
  • U.S. EPA announces a second command post near Columbiana.

February 28, 2023

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced that they will hold a hearing about the derailment in East Palestine.
  • U.S. EPA Administrator Regan held a roundtable with teachers and students in East Palestine.
  • River Valley Organizing released list of community demands from Norfolk Southern and the federal government.
  • U.S. EPA introduces a new mobile laboratory that will allow real time air monitoring during the waste removal process.
  • The Federal Railroad Administration issued a safety advisory that railroads should evaluate detectors that could alert of defects early on.

February 27, 2023

  • U.S. EPA announces that solid and liquid waste will be moved out of East Palestine to secure disposal facilities.
  • Second round of sediment washing began in Sulphur and Leslie Run.
  • Testing by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources yielded no evidence for chemical toxicity as cause of death.
  • The second town meeting of East Palestine residents was held.
  • Heavy storms caused low levels of contaminants to flow downstream.

February 24, 2023

  • The community and experts urge Ohio and U.S. EPA to test for Dioxins, which are highly toxic and cancer-causing.

February 23, 2023

  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visits East Palestine.

February 22, 2023

  • Emergency Management Agency begin handing out recource packets to residents.
  • U.S. Representative Bill Johnson congressional campaign donates the amount that they had received from Norfolk Southern PAC to East Palestine Fire Department.
  • Former President Donald Trump visits East Palestine.
  • Norfolk Southern announces soil excavation and track replacement along damages rail lines.
  • National Transportation Safety Board releases preliminary findings from their investigation on the derailment.

February 21, 2023

  • Ohio Department of Health opens Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine.
  • U.S. EPA declares a legally binding order that Norfolk Southern will conduct all necessary cleanup actions.

February 20, 2023

  • Greater Cincinnati Water Works and Northern Kentucky Water District reopen their pipes in the Ohio River.

February 19, 2023

  • Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg sends a letter to Norfolk Southern warning of the railroad’s responsibility to the people of East Palestine.

February 17, 2023

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sends support personnel to the clinic in East Palestine.
  • Chemical plume in the Ohio River disperses.

February 16, 2023

February 15, 2023

  • OEC’s Managing Director of Water Policy joins a roundtable discussion with lawmakers and experts to strategize around the East Palestine train derailment, its environmental impacts, and potential policy solutions.
  • Community members demand answers at local town hall meeting with Mayor Trent Conaway.
  • Ohio EPA water quality testing reveals no detection of contaminants in the municipal water system.
  • Ohio EPA recommends additional testing before private water wells can be used.

February 14, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern begins providing bottled water to residents of East Palestine.
  • In a press conference Governor DeWine admits to being offered assistance from President Biden, but he declines due to his perception of the severity of this disaster.

February 13, 2023

February 12, 2023

  • The U.S. EPA releases list of all the chemicals being carried on Norfolk Southern General Merchandise freight train 32N and identifies which ones are hazardous.

February 10, 2023

  • Norfolk Southern installs a dam and water bypass at Sulphur Run.
  • The U.S. EPA sends a letter to Norfolk Southern outlining liability, cleanup actions, and costs associated with the aftermath of the disaster.
  • Norfolk Southern releases its “Preliminary Remedial Action Work Plan”.

February 9, 2023

  • Residential air screening appointments are offered at the expense of Norfolk Southern.

February 8, 2023

  • Controlled burn fire of railcar substances goes out.
  • Gov. Dewine, Gov. Shapiro, and other local officials announce that evacuated residents in East Palestine can safely return home.
  • U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA find materials spilling into Sulphur Run and nearby soil during a wreck inspection.
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources releases estimate that 3,500 aquatic animals died from the immediate contaminate spill into Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, and a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek.
  • Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission finds that a Chemical Plume has traveled from Little Beaver Creek to the Ohio River.

February 7, 2023

  • River Valley Organizing begin a campaign to send letters Governor DeWine advocating for a declaration of a National Emergency.
  • U.S. EPA ASPECT plane conducts a flyover to gather air quality data.
  • The 52nd Civil Service Team goes to three public administration buildings to monitor collective levels of all contaminants and take samples to identify specific chemical compounds in the air.
  • Main railroad lines return to service.

February 6, 2023

  • The National Transportation Safety Board begins investigation on the cause of the derailment.
  • Gov. DeWine and Gov. Shapiro order immediate evacuation of residents in a one-mile by two-mile area surrounding East Palestine.
  • At 4:15pm Norfolk Southern conduct a controlled burn of five rail cars containing vinyl chloride due to risk of explosion.

February 5, 2023

  • A contractor hired by Norfolk Southern detects low levels of volatile organic compounds in nearby work zones.

February 4, 2023

  • At approximately 2am, EPA administrators arrive on site to help assess damages.
  • The U.S. EPA deploys 12 air monitoring instruments around the site of the derailment and community. They monitor for volatile organic compounds and harmful gases around site.
  • Ohio EPA performs water runoff testing, contamination is found in Sulphur Run and Leslie Run water streams. Samples are taken from these two surface water streams and sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • After identifying contamination in Sulphur Run and Leslie Run water streams Norfolk Southern emergency response contractors restrict flow of contaminated water through blooms and underflow dams.
  • Downstream water utilities are notified of contamination.

February 3, 2023

  • The crew of Norfolk Southern general merchandise freight train 32N receive wayside defect detector alert that a wheel bearing was overheating on a railcar.
  • At 8:54pm a Norfolk Southern freight train with 141 load cars, nine empty cars and three locomotives derails. 38 rail cars derail and 12 additional cars catch fire that ensued after the derailment
  • Shortly after the Norfolk Southern train derailed, residents report intense smells of chemicals in the air.
  • At 10:53pm Norfolk Southern report derailment to the National Response Center.
  • Local fire departments claim that there is nothing to worry about, but residents should remain indoors as a precaution.


East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment Emergency Response | US EPA

Governor Mike DeWine, News and Media

National Transportation Safety Board – Norfolk Southern Railway Train Derailment with Subsequent Hazardous Material Release and Fires

Norfolk Southern – Derailment in East Palestine, OH