Press Release

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Monitoring the impact of the train derailment and toxic chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio

Columbus, OH — The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) continues to monitor the impact of the February 3, 2023 train derailment and toxic chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio.

In response to the situation, the following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to Chris Colón, Northeast Ohio Regional Director for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):

“Our hearts are with the residents in East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding communities following the devastating train derailment and toxic chemical release. It will take time before we know the full extent of the environmental damage from this accident. We know the community faces serious air and water quality concerns—including reports of fish kills in streams leading into the Little Beaver Creek, a Federal Scenic River and a State Wild and Scenic River, as well as known contamination of the Ohio River, which serves as a drinking water source.”

The following quote can be attributed, in whole or in part, to Melanie Houston, Managing Director of Water Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):

“Vinyl chloride is a highly toxic and volatile chemical. This means that it can be easily absorbed into the human body, and that very small amounts can cause harm. It is also a known carcinogen, associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer and other cancers.

“As we continue to monitor the situation, we call for accountability and stronger regulations to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again. Norfolk Southern Railroad should pay to clean up not only the derailment site, but all human health, community, and environmental costs associated with this accident. Furthermore, Norfolk Southern must be held accountable for any health impacts on nearby families that occur as a result of this derailment.

“It’s time for our state and federal leaders to rethink whether the risks associated with transporting highly toxic materials like vinyl chloride by rail are acceptable for our communities. All Ohioans deserve to breathe clean air, drink clean water and play safely in their communities. Accidents like this jeopardize Ohioans’ ability to live safe and healthy lives, and perpetuate historical environmental injustices in our state.

“We support River Valley Organizing and other local advocates in their call for a declaration of a federal emergency, so that Ohio might receive federal support and aid in clean up efforts in the weeks, months and years ahead.”

For further questions or information, we recommend contacting the following experts and local advocates:

River Valley Organizing
Amanda Kiger, Director or 330-303-7197

Sierra Club Ohio
Shelly Corbin, Campaign Representative

Sonya Lunder, Senior Toxic Policy Advisor

Cindy Carr, Press Secretary

Fair Shake Legal Services or 412-664-5546

Ohio Department of Natural Resources Scenic Rivers Program
Stephanie O’Grady, Media and Outreach Specialist or 614-265-6860