Ohio Train Derailment Raises Environmental & Health Concerns

On February 3rd, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. 20 of the train cars that derailed were hauling toxic substances, such as butyl acrylate, vinyl chloride, isobutylene, ethylhexyl acrylate, and ethylene glycol. To avoid an explosion, containment workers released and then burned a large amount of the chemicals.

Although the evacuation order has recently been lifted, residents in the area are not convinced it is safe to come home. The lingering effects of the toxic chemicals are still prevalent enough to raise serious environmental and health concerns, as well as the creation of several lawsuits in under two weeks.

People in East Palestine, OH have reported:

  • Burning and irritated eyes
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Strong, offensive odor over the town
  • Sick or deceased livestock and pets
  • Unusual taste to tap water

EPA Detects Chemical Contamination Yet Gives All Clear

Despite these reports from locals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims it is closely monitoring the situation and has not found any contamination levels that would warrant further evacuation and action. It has been reported that none of the 300-or-so homes voluntarily evaluated so far have had vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride detected in the air. The Ohio Department of Health has also stated that vinyl chloride will evaporate quickly into the air when spilled on open soil or surface water and not soak into underground water reserves.

However, a letter from the EPA to Norfolk Southern states that the five chemicals have been detected in nearby storm drains, creeks, and even the Ohio River. Efforts have been taken to try to reroute the contaminated water and prevent it from spreading even wider downstream, including the use of interceptor trenches and dams in connected streams. The West Virginia American Water company announced it would install a secondary intake on the Guyandotte River in anticipation of water contamination caused by the winds that carried the toxic plume of burning vinyl chloride.

The message to residents that it is safe to go home seems to conflict directly with the ongoing efforts to contain the toxic contamination, including across state lines in West Virginia. It is no surprise that residents are skeptical and demanding more information and action beyond the current remediation plan by Norfolk Southern.

Can You File an Ohio Train Derailment Lawsuit?

Although an investigation is still underway, it is likely that the large quantity of spilled, leaked, and burned chemicals could adversely affect the health of locals, as well as the environment overall. Lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern are demanding that the company pay for additional medical screenings and any necessary medical care, as well as additional punitive damages for the company’s apparent negligence. You might be eligible to file a lawsuit, too, or help form a growing class action lawsuit.

Residents in East Palestine, Ohio, are encouraged to reach out to Murray & Murray as soon as possible. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, residents in adjacent townships might also be eligible. Our attorneys can evaluate your situation and give you honest legal counsel about what to do next.

Call (419) 664-3711 or contact us online to request a consultation about East Palestine, OH toxic train derailment lawsuits.

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