Ohio concerned after chemical train derailment

They can go home but many prefer to wait. Residents of a US community where a train carrying chemicals derailed should drink bottled water, local authorities advised on Wednesday, amid growing concern over the health and environmental consequences of the crash.

On February 3, this derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, caused a huge fire and the evacuation of several hundred people. Among other things, the train was carrying vinyl chloride, a carcinogenic and highly flammable chemical used in the manufacture of plastic.

The railway authorities then proceeded to “controlled” releases of vinyl chloride “to avoid a possible explosion” according to the office of the governor of Ohio, releasing toxic fumes into the air.

However, the air is “safe”, Governor Mike DeWine assured CNN on Wednesday, based on air quality tests. But regarding water, “as a precaution, we told people ‘yes, use bottled water. Don’t take the risk, wait until we have the test results,’” he said.

3,500 dead fish

The day before, Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce Vanderhoff called on residents with private wells to test their water, also recommending that residents consider drinking bottled water for now.

On February 8, the authorities announced that the evacuated residents could return to their homes “in complete safety”.

However, questions are rising about the consequences of the derailment and residents have expressed their concern. Some 3,500 fish died in particular, according to the local department of natural resources.

The US Transportation Accident Investigation Board (NTSB) said its investigation into the causes of the derailment was continuing. Governor DeWine promised to “hold the Norfolk Southern Railroad to account”. She “should pay for everything,” he said. “They are responsible for what happened.”

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