State And Regional

‘Proud of the progress;’ Cleanup continues a year after toxic train derailment in East Palestine

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — This Saturday will mark one year since the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and cleanup is still ongoing.

The US and Ohio EPA are overseeing cleanup after Norfolk Southern tank cars derailed and spewed flames and toxic chemicals into the air, ground, and water in East Palestine to ensure it is done correctly. The derailment occurred on Feb. 3, 2023.

“Norfolk Southern is responsible for the cleanup. They’re responsible to hire the contractors to do the work, to pay for it. They do it under the orders of the US EPA, under the oversight of the US EPA and the Ohio EPA,” Ohio EPA Director Anne Vogel said.

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Even as the cleanup continues, there are still concerns from people who live in that community.

“Absolutely. Yeah. To be clear, we have been testing water, air, and soil now for a year and we have not found any concerning levels of contamination,” Vogel said when asked if it was safe for people to live and work in and around Columbiana County.

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There are also concerns for those who make their living in that part of Northeast Ohio, farmer wondering if it is safe for them to plant and harvest their crops to either use or sell in and around Columbiana County.

“The [Ohio] Department of Agriculture did forage testing of the crops immediately in the spring. Governor DeWine was out at some farms in the area. And Ohio State was very helpful in quickly developing some tests -- first of their kind tests -- for crops to look for these chemicals of concern. And we didn’t find anything. So there’s no science to suggest that there’s any contamination remaining in East Palestine or in Columbiana County,” Vogel said.

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News Center 7′s John Bedell reached out to Norfolk Southern regarding the cleanup.

“We’re proud of the progress we’ve made toward fully remediating the site and helping the community recover. But we know there is more work to do. We’ll continue keeping our promises and listening to the community. Together, we’re focused on economic development to help the East Palestine community thrive for the long term,” Alan Shaw, Norfolk Southern’s President and CEO, said in a statement.

Crews finished removing contaminated soil in October, Vogel said there’s “a matter of months” left in terms of the cleanup in East Palestine.

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