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East Palestine Update - 3/16/23

(EAST PALESTINE, Ohio)— The following are updates from the State of Ohio regarding remediation work at the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Track and Soil Removal

All 1,900 feet of the south train tracks have been removed from the site of the derailment and the soil and ballast underneath have been removed to the clay layer, a depth of approximately 48 inches.

To ensure that crews have dug deep enough and that contaminated soil has been removed from underneath the south tracks, contractors have been testing the soil remaining at the clay layer. Test results show that some portions of sampled soil meet the clean standards determined by state and federal authorities. Those sections will be filled with gravel, and reconstruction of the tracks will begin.

Areas that did not meet the clean standards will undergo more soil removal, and another round of testing will take place. Rails in these sections of the south tracks will not be reconstructed until the sampling results meet the clean standards determined by state and federal authorities. 

Removal of the north tracks will not begin until the south tracks are fully reconstructed. 

Community Resource Open House

The Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Health will join the U.S. EPA during a community open house event tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the East Palestine school gym at 360 West Grant Street. 

Hazardous Waste Removal

According to the Ohio EPA, approximately 6.7 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine in total. There is currently a pile of approximately 26,700 tons of excavated soil waiting for removal from East Palestine, versus 4,600 tons that have been removed. 

Rail Cars

All rail cars have been removed from the derailment site including the 11 cars that had been held on site as part of the National Transportation Safety Board's ongoing investigation.

Private Well Testing

Water sample results from private water systems of East Palestine area homes continue to show no harmful levels of contaminants.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Columbiana County Health District received verified laboratory results from 13 additional samples from private water systems as of noon Wednesday. Ten of those wells showed no detectable contaminants. Three wells had trace detections of contaminants at levels well below safe drinking-water standards. There is no evidence that any of those trace detections are linked to the train derailment.

In total, test results from 126 samples have been verified, and none have shown any harmful contaminant levels associated with the derailment.

The results can be found on the Columbiana County Health Department site at https://www.columbiana-health.org/resources/.

Residents near East Palestine who would like their private water system sampled should call 330-849-3919.

Health Assessment Clinic

The Ohio Department of Health’s Health Assessment Clinic in East Palestine, operating in partnership with the Columbiana County Health District, is operating on a walk-in basis. Residents should arrive at least an hour before closing to ensure there is enough time to be served.

Clinic hours for next week are:

Monday-Tuesday: Noon to 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Noon to 8 p.m.

Thursday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The clinic is located at the First Church of Christ, 20 West Martin St. For information, call the Columbiana County Health District at 330-424-0272.

Coping with Trauma

According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, traumatic events, such as the train derailment, can cause intense stress, anxiety, and worry, especially in the first several weeks following the event.

Local certified professionals are onsite at the East Palestine Mobile Health Clinic and are ready to assist anyone who has questions or concerns.  In addition, any resident can call the Ohio CareLine at 1-800-720-9616 at any time of day for free, confidential, emotional support from a trained professional.

For more information about local behavioral health resources and providers, contact the Columbiana County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board at https://www.ccmhrsb.org/

More Information and Previous Updates: ema.ohio.gov/eastpalestine