Pennsylvania Opens Health Center Near Ohio Train Derailment As Residents Voice Concerns About Air And Water Quality

The Pennsylvania Department of Health have opened a resource center in a community affected by the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, as residents voice concerns about chemical fallout from the incident.

Local and state authorities previously evacuated all residents within one mile of the February 3 derailment and started a controlled burn of industrial chemicals on the vehicle to decrease the risk of an explosion, which could have sent shrapnel throughout the small Ohio town. Vinyl chloride, a carcinogen used to manufacture PVC, was emitted from five train cars in the form of massive plumes of black smoke visible throughout eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Governor Josh Shapiro (D-PA) announced on Monday that his administration would open a health resource center in Darlington Township, which is on the western border of Pennsylvania and the eastern border of Ohio, so that citizens can visit with any health concerns and ask for tests of their drinking water.

“Pennsylvanians who are concerned about the impacts of the derailment on their health will have an additional resource to turn to, where they can talk to public health experts right in their own community from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, to receive treatment should they need it,” Shapiro said in a statement. “From the beginning of our response to Norfolk Southern’s derailment, my administration has worked hand-in-hand with first responders and emergency management personnel, our partners in Ohio, and the federal government to ensure our citizens in western Pennsylvania have the resources and information they need to be safe and healthy.”

Shapiro remarked on social media that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has “already collected samples from nearly every private well” within one mile of the derailment. He affirmed that Norfolk Southern, the rail company at the center of the disaster, would pay for the cleanup and reimburse first responders in Beaver and Lawrence counties for “equipment that was damaged or contaminated while responding to the derailment.”

The EPA and state-level officials previously assured residents that air and water quality tests in East Palestine have not raised cause for concern. Researchers from Texas A&M University and Carnegie Mellon University nevertheless revealed last week that nine of the approximately 50 chemicals that the EPA said were present on the derailed train currently have higher concentrations than normal in East Palestine. They noted the above-normal levels of acrolein, a substance which is “highly toxic” when inhaled, according to a report from the CDC.

A team of journalists and producers from The Daily Wire who visited East Palestine two weeks ago reported a lingering smell in the air, an oily chemical sheen in local creeks and rivers, and symptoms such as sore throats and headaches garnered merely by spending an extended period of time in the community. Residents of East Palestine told the team that their livelihoods are threatened as customers start to avoid their businesses and family farms.

The EPA generated additional controversy this week by announcing that officials would move toxic materials hundreds of miles away from the disaster site to a landfill in western Indiana, effectively crossing the entire breadth of both Indiana and Ohio. “There has been a lack of communication with me and other Indiana officials about this decision,” Governor Eric Holcomb (R-IN) said. “After learning third-hand that materials may be transported to our state yesterday, I directed my environmental director to reach out to the agency. The materials should go to the nearest facilities, not moved from the far eastern side of Ohio to the far western side of Indiana.”

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