Report: Ohio Hazmat Release Spread to 16 States

Posted on 6/25/2024 by Lion Technology Inc.

The “average” hazmat shipment travels about 200 miles, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. For hazmat shipped by truck, the average trip is 63 miles.

Mother Nature can move hazardous materials efficiently too—it turns out—for (at least) hundreds of miles. Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) purportedly shows that pollution from the February 3, 2023 train derailment and chemical release near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border spread across 16 states. 

Report: Ohio Hazmat Release Spread to 16 States

After the derailment, responders performed a "controlled burn" of vinyl chloride that resulted in a plume of smoke.

Impacts From Wisconsin to North Carolina

Researchers at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene collected rain and snow samples from 260 sites around the nation. Areas as far north as Wisconsin and Maine and as far south as North Carolina showed levels of pH and certain compounds higher than any measured in the last 10 years. Researchers noted high chloride concentrations in several states downwind of the incident, as well as historically high levels of alkaline and earth metals.

The regional and even nationwide impact that a single hazmat transportation incident can have underscores the importance of effective hazard communication and hazmat training for personnel who prepare and offer shipments, transport hazardous materials, or respond to emergencies in transportation.

At sites that ship hazmat, "hazmat employees" need hazmat training to comply with complex, stringent regulations to ship hazardous materials safely by ground, air, and vessel. (Details: Who Needs Hazmat Training?).

Emergency responders need the proper level of training and experience laid out in OSHA’s HAZWOPER Standard [29 CFR 1910.210(q)(6)] to safely and effectively limit the spread of a release.

NTSB Board Meeting on East Palestine Incident

On June 25, 2024, at 9:30 AM ET, NTSB presented its Board meeting live. The Board Meeting reviewed findings, probable causes, and safety recommendations from February 2023 hazmat train derailment and chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio.

For more details about the incident, see these earlier blog posts:

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