Update on East Palestine Vinyl Chloride Incident

Posted on 2/21/2023 by Nick Waldron, Roseanne Bottone, and Roger Marks

Investigation and response work is still underway following the derailment of eleven rail cars carrying hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, in western Ohio earlier this month.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has identified a preliminary cause for the derailment—an overheated wheel.

In a statement, NTSB shared:

“surveillance video from a residence showed what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.” 

The investigation is ongoing. NTSB has collected evidence, including the wheelset from the rail car seen on video and valves from hazmat rail cars involved in the incident. 

Update on East Palestine Vinyl Chloride Incident

Read More: Hazmat Rail Cars Carrying Vinyl Chloride Derail in Ohio

A list of chemicals involved in the derailment in East Palestine was provided to US EPA.

EPA issued a general notice of potential liability to the railroad on February 11, alerting them that they may be held responsible for cleanup costs resulting from the derailment and hazardous materials release.

Air and Water Monitoring

US EPA is conducting air monitoring, including inside more than 530 homes in the community as of February 19, and found no levels of concern. A controlled burn of chemicals at the crash site produced phosgene and hydrogen chloride. Now that the fire is extinguished, there is no further risk of those chemicals entering the air. 

Public wells have also been deemed clear of contamination above levels of concern, while those with private wells are encouraged to continue using bottled water, being provided by the railroad. 

Lion staff continues to monitor the situation surrounding this derailment and hazmat release site, and will provide updates when new information becomes available. 

Regular updates, along with details and documents concerning the cleanup effort and environmental impact of the derailment, is available on EPA's Site Profile page. 



Tags: East Palestine, Ohio, hazardous materials, hazmat incident

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