Officials: Thousands of Dead Fish Reported Around Ohio Derailment Site

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
February 14, 2023US News

The train derailment and release of toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3 has resulted in at least 3,500 fish dead, according to an estimate from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Wildlife officers with the Ohio environmental agency found dead fish in Leslie Run, Bull Creek, and a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek, the agency told News5 on Monday.

As of Feb. 8, some 3,500 minnow, sculpin, darter, and small sucker fish have been killed by the chemical release, the Department of Natural Resources told the outlet.

Due to the spill, a water utility company in West Virginia announced Sunday that it will install a secondary intake on the Guyandotte River in case there’s a need to use an alternate water source, reported The Associated Press. It said that there have been no changes in its raw water levels where it monitors the Ohio River.

It came after a woman who lives in the area said she saw dead fish in Leslie Run, saying that her family uses the same water.

“That’s what we bathe in, that’s what we drink, that’s what we cook with and that’s what I also give to my animals, so it’s a major concern and they could not reassure me the water was safe to drink. They didn’t say it wasn’t and absolutely refrained from saying that it was,” Linda Murphy, who lives three miles from the train derailment, told the outlet.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirmed that chemicals released from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this month have been found in the Ohio River, one of the largest rivers in the United States.

In a letter sent on Feb. 10, the EPA said (pdf) that there were substances from the train that were now “observed and detected in samples from Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and the Ohio River.” Meanwhile, “materials related to the incident were observed entering storm drains,” the letter stated.

A train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed near East Palestine on Feb. 3. Authorities have confirmed a range of toxic and highly flammable chemicals were being carried, including vinyl chloride, phosgene, and hydrogen chloride. During a “controlled release” and burn of materials on the train, officials had to issue a temporary evacuation order of East Palestine.

On Monday, a municipal water company serving Louisville, Kentucky, said that the chemical butyl acrylate—confirmed to be carried on the derailed train—was observed in the Ohio River. Louisville sits on the Ohio River, one of the largest rivers in the United States and one that contributes significantly to the Mississippi River.

“What we are seeing is really low levels of a compound called butyl acrylate,” Chris Bobay, a water quality manager with Louisville Water Company, told local media. “Butyl acrylate is an ester and esters are known for imparting very strong odors to the water at higher concentrations. The levels we’re seeing, we don’t expect there to be any odor issues. But we have developed a treatment strategy to make sure that we remove the odors if they’re there.”

But Bobay stated that officials are not seeing elevated levels of the chemical in the Ohio River in Louisville, located about 300 miles from the East Palestine derailment site. “We can detect butyl acrylate as low as .5 parts per billion, but we’re not getting detections currently,” Bobay told Spectrum News.

According to health authorities (pdf), butyl acrylate “is a clear, colorless liquid with a fruity, strong odor” that “is used in the manufacture of polymers and resins, and in paint formulations.”

Butyl acrylate can affect a person when passing through the skin or when it is inhaled, officials say. The chemical can headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, and repeated exposure can cause permanent damage to the lungs, according to officials. It’s also highly flammable and rated as an explosion hazard.

Meanwhile, the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s website says the chemical is “somewhat” less dense than water and can form a “slick” on water. It’s primarily used in the manufacturing of sealants, paints, and coatings.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials told local outlet WEWS-TV that as of Feb. 8, the derailment and fire resulted in the deaths of about 3,500 fish across about 7.5 miles of streams south of East Palestine.

The EPA, in an update over the weekend, wrote that “air quality samples in the area of the wreckage and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern,” referring to East Palestine.  Air testing has been carried out 24 hours per day from several instruments, it said.

The Epoch Times has contacted both the EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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