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Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has slammed the state’s Public Utilities Commission after it claimed the toxic train that derailed in Ohio was not considered hazardous, despite the accident devastating the local area. 

Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, fled the area after around 50 cars, including ten carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash at 9pm on Friday, February 3. 

Despite the evacuation order being lifted last week, locals have since questioned authorities’ assurances that the area is safe. 

More than 3,500 fish have been killed due to the toxic runoff, while footage of the aftermath shows plumes of toxic smoke still lingering in the area. 

Some residents are also reporting persistent coughs, while farmers in the area claim their livestock are dropping dead in large numbers. 

The toxic train derailed in a fiery crash on February 3, leading authorities to evacuate the surrounding East Palestine, Ohio area 

A giant plume of smoke from the aftermath of the incident could be seen from miles away

A giant plume of smoke from the aftermath of the incident could be seen from miles away

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine told a press conference Tuesday that the lack of toxic classification for the train was 'absurd'

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine told a press conference Tuesday that the lack of toxic classification for the train was ‘absurd’

Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, DeWine gave his third update to the community following the derailment of the Norfolk-Southern train. 

The governor hit out at a claim by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that the train was not considered a high-hazardous materials train, branding the statement ‘absurd’. 

He said the lack of the classification meant the railroad was not required to update authorities over the toxic rail cars entering the state, as he urged Congress to take action over the issue to prevent future issues. 

‘Frankly, if this is true and I’m told it’s true, this is absurd and we need to look at this and Congress needs to take a look at how these things are handled,’ DeWine said. 

‘We should know when we have trains carrying hazardous material that are going through the state of Ohio.’

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff also urged residents to get their water wells tested, adding: ‘Bottled water is the right answer.’

His remarks follow numerous complaints from residents of severe side-effects after the toxic train derailment. 

The train flew off the tracks as it was travelling through Ohio towards Conway, Pennsylvania from Madison, Illinois at on February 4. All homes in a one-mile area to be evacuated as toxic vinyl chloride leaked from the site. 

Authorities then lit the toxic fumes on fire in a ‘controlled release’, sending the highly flammable and dangerous chemicals billowing into the air in a controlled environment. 

The plume of smoke from the ignition was seen miles away, as more shocking footage of the after-effects of the accident has raised questions as to the safety of the area. 

As residents have returned home following the evacuation, some are reporting burning sensations and persistent coughs.

Farmers in the area have also claimed that their livestock are dropping dead in large numbers, adding to the huge numbers of fish to have been killed due to the toxic runoff. 

At Tuesday’s press conference Tuesday, DeWine said he understood ‘the anger and skepticism’ from the local community following the accident. 

‘The impact on the community is huge, the inconvenience, the terror – I’m sure we’ll see more lawsuits filed,’ he said. 

The EPA said Tuesday they have carried out ‘robust air-quality testing’ in and around the area of the crash, and confirmed they have ‘not detected any levels’ of chemicals that could cause harm. 

The authority added they had screened 396 homes for toxicity, with none showing detections of vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride. 

Over 3,500 fish have died in the immediate area due to the toxic runoff

Over 3,500 fish have died in the immediate area due to the toxic runoff

Locals have said numerous livestock have died following the release of the toxic fumes into the air. One resident of North Lima, over 10 miles from the derailment, said her five hens and rooster died suddenly after the hazardous cars were burned

Locals have said numerous livestock have died following the release of the toxic fumes into the air. One resident of North Lima, over 10 miles from the derailment, said her five hens and rooster died suddenly after the hazardous cars were burned

The EPA has said it has 'not detected' any levels of toxic chemicals in the area

The EPA has said it has ‘not detected’ any levels of toxic chemicals in the area

Locals have hit out at the response from authorities amid skepticism over the true safety of the region, with some refusing to return home as a chemical smell lingers in the area. 

‘Don’t tell me it’s safe,’ Cathey Reese, who lives in Negley, Ohio — just north of East Palestine —told WPXI of Pittsburgh last week. 

‘Something is going on if the fish are floating in the creek.’

Another resident of North Lima, over 10 miles from the derailment, said her five hens and rooster died suddenly after the toxic cars were burned. 

And Jenna Giannios, 39, a wedding photographer in nearby Boardman, said she has had a persistent cough for the past week and a half.

She added that she has only been drinking bottled water and is uncomfortable using tap water to bathe due to fears over its toxicity. 

‘They only evacuatedone mile from that space, and that’s just insane to me,’ Giannios, who set up a Facebook page for residents to vent their frustrations, told NBC News.

‘I’m concerned with the long-term health impact,’ she added. ‘It’s just a mess.’

DeWine also noted in his press conference the numerous clips online showing the damaged area, as he said: ‘I know people have been seeing the dead fish.’ 

Officials at the press conference added that 12 different species of fish had been affected by the toxic runoff, but that none are on the endangered species list. 

The governor added there is ‘no indication’ at the moment that the train was intentionally derailed. 

Following initial investigations into the incident, it was revealed that even more toxic chemicals were on board the freight train than were first reported.

The realization led the EPA to warn that chemicals are continuing to be released ‘to the air, surface soils, and surface waters.’ 

Environmentalist and consumer advocate Erin Brockovich joined those who have hit out at the government’s response to the crisis. 

She tweeted Monday: ‘The Biden administration needs to get more involved in this #PalestineOhio train derailment now.

‘We are counting on you to break the chain of administration after administration to turn a blind eye – STEP UP NOW.’

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in the town

About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in the town

The train derailment on February 3 set off a fire that could be seen from miles away

The train derailment on February 3 set off a fire that could be seen from miles away

Hazardous materials specialist and former fire department chief Sil Caggiano also said he was ‘surprised’ residents were allowed to return home so quickly before all of their homes were tested.

‘I would’ve far rather they did all the testing [first],’ he said. 

‘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.’

He added: ‘We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open.’

Calls from officials to get well water tested were echoed by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, which is urging its members to do so immediately.

‘There’s some level of frustration out there’ among farmers, the organization’s director, Nick Kennedy told NBC News.

‘They just want answers. Their livelihoods might be at stake here.’

Shocking footage of the train already on fire was caught by surveillance cameras as it passed through Butech Bliss, around 20 miles from where it eventually derailed. 

The National Transportation Safety Board reportedly identified a faulty wheel as the cause of the derailment. 

The authority said: ‘NTSB investigators have identified and examined the rail car that initiated the derailment. 

‘Surveillance video from a residence showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.’

The dangerous chemicals released in the East Palestine train derailment 

A train carrying a wide-variety of toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio on February 3.

Some of those chemicals have since been released into the air or soil, as residents worry about the long-term health effects.

Among the chemicals released from the derailment are:

Vinyl chloride — train operator Norfolk Southern has said that 10 cars were burning vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen. It is a highly-volatile colorless gas  used to create polyvinyl chloride, a plastic used in piping, cables, bottles and credit cards.

Symptoms of vinyl chloride exposure includes drowsiness, headaches and dizziness. More long-term effects may include cancer and liver damage.

Hydrogen chloride — In trying to mitigate the effects of vinyl chloride, officials conducted a controlled explosion of the train cars, releasing hydrogen chloride.

The chemical is irritating and corrosive to any tissue it gets in contact with, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

Brief exposure can cause throat irritation, but exposure at higher levels can result in rapid breathing, narrowing of the bronchioles, blue coloring of the skin, accumulation of fluid in the lungs and even death. 

Phosgene — a chemical that was also released in the controlled explosion. 

Like hydrogen chloride, phosgene is an irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.

Common initial symptoms include mild irritation of the eyes and throat, with some coughing choking, nausea, occasional vomiting, headache and a feeling of tightness in the chest.

Phosgene poisoning may also cause respiratory and cardiovascular failure, low blood pressure and an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. 

Ethylhexyl acrylate — a chemical that was carried on the train 

It is a known carcinogen, that can cause burning and irritation of the skin and eyes. Inhalation of the substance can also irritate the nose and throat, causing shortness of breath and coughing. 

Isobutylene was also being transported on the train.

Inhalation of isobutylene can cause dizziness and drowsiness

Ethylene glycol mobobutyl was another substance being transported to Pennsylvania.

It can cause irritation in the eyes, skin, nose and threat, as well as hematuria (or blood in the urine), nervous system depression, headache and vomiting.

#EPA #claims #dangerous #levels #chemicals #Ohio. #fish #dead

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