Newly-released drone footage shows East Palestine waterways being treated in the aftermath of a devastating railroad derailment that released dangerous chemicals into the streams and soil.
It is unclear from the footage what the waterways are being treated with to mitigate the effects of vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, as cleanup efforts continue in the eastern Ohio town.
Alan Shaw, the CEO of rail company Norfolk Southern, said on Sunday he is pleased with the progress his firm is making in cleaning up the area.
But a newly-filed federal lawsuit claims fish and livestock are dying as far as 20 miles away from the crash site, while residents continue to suffer from rashes, nausea, headaches and dizziness since the train derailed on February 3.
Many are now calling for justice, demanding the rail company be accountable to the residents of the small town as they continue to face the effects of the toxic chemicals, and famed environmentalist Erin Brockovich is planning to discuss the issue with locals at a town hall on Friday.
Drone video posted online shows streams in East Palestine being treated after being contaminated by dangerous chemicals in the aftermath of a train derailment
Norfolk Southern executives have vowed to clean up East Palestine, and are offering residents $1,000 in compensation in addition to a $1million fund to help the community of some 4,700 people.
After crews discovered contaminated runoff on two surface water streams, Sulphur Run and Leslie Run, the rail company installed booms and dams to restrict the flow of contaminated water.
US Environmental Protection Agency crews are also on the scene, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying a team to help with the cleanup efforts.
But a class-action lawsuit filed in Ohio federal court claims the contamination affected even more fish and wildlife within 20 miles of the derailment — more than the In the 3,500 fish that officials have said turned up dead in seven and a half miles of streams.
‘Mass kills of wild animals and fish have been reported as far as 20 miles away from the derailment site,’ the suit says.
‘Although mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted and residents have been told that it is safe to return to their homes, plaintiffs and members of the class believe, with good reason, that the prospective dangers from the hazardous exposure are being grossly downplayed and that their health has been and is subjected to injurious toxins.’
Norfolk Southern has declined to comment on pending litigation.
Officials have not confirmed any nonaquatic wildlife deaths following the train derailment and subsequent ‘controlled burn’ of toxic chemicals.
But the Columbiana County Humane Society has started compiling reports of sick animals as far as seven miles outside of the evacuation zone.
And the Ohio Department of Agriculture is planning to test the tissue from a six-week old calf that died on February 11 about two miles outside East Palestine, according to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
Residents in East Palestine, Ohio remain skeptical of reports that the water is safe to drink
Crews are pictured using booms and absorbent materials to filter water in a creek by East Palestine City Park on Saturday
One resident told DailyMail.com that they have noticed oil buildup in the creek behind their home (pictured)
Workers are seen here assessing the waterways, seven and a half miles of which were contaminated by the train derailment on February 3
Water was pumped into a creek in an effort to air it out on February 15 at the East Palestine Park
Locals have said that since they returned to their homes on February 9, they have noticed that their pets and wildlife are displaying signs of being poisoned.
One couple even had to put down their indoor cat after they noticed he was getting sick in just the hours after the train derailment.
Documentation from the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Clinic shows that veterinarians there believe Leo’s condition ‘could be due to vinyl chloride cases.’
‘They said, well it must have been vinyl chloride poisoning that exacerbated his heart condition because they think that he had a genetic heart condition beforehand that was underlying that may not have been triggered without the vinyl chloride,’ Andrea Belden told FOX 8.
Meanwhile, Taylor Holzer is asking the public for funds to help his pet foxes he had to leave behind when he was forced to evacuate.
He said his rescued foxes are now clearly in respiratory distress with swollen glands, and the animals stuck outside have hurt themselves from freight of the sirens and smells, with one of the foxes breaking his leg as he tried to escape his enclosure.
The fundraiser has already netted over $74,000 for the foxes veterinary bills.
Taylor Holzer is asking the public for funds to help his pet foxes he had to leave behind when he was forced to evacuate
Officials have said some 3,500 fish across seven-and-a-half miles of streams died in the aftermath of the train derailment and a controlled release of the toxic chemicals
Famed environmentalist Erin Brockovich is planning to visit the town on Friday
Meanwhile, residents in and around East Palestine are complaining of rashes, persistent coughs, headaches and nausea in the aftermath of the train derailment.
Among the chemicals that were being transported on the train were vinyl chloride, a highly-volatile colorless gas produced for commercial uses; ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that contact with ethylhexyl acrylate, a known carcinogen, can cause burning and irritation of the skin and eyes, while inhalation of the substance can irritate the nose and throat, causing shortness of breath and coughing.
Inhalation of isobutylene can also cause dizziness and drowsiness, while exposure to ethylene glycol mobobutyl ether can cause irritation in the eyes, skin, nose and threat, as well as hematuria (or blood in the urine), nervous system depression, headache and vomiting.
Vinyl chloride is also a known carcinogen that can cause drowsiness, headaches and dizziness in the short term.
In the long term, exposure to vinyl chloride can cause liver damage.
Desiree Walker, a 19-year resident who lives just 900 feet from the derailment site told WOIO last week that her family is now starting to feel some of those symptoms, but the doctors do not know what to test for,
‘Our throats are sore, we’re coughing a lot now,’ she said. ‘My son, his eyes [are] matted shut.’
The mother is now refusing to let her children drink the water — despite local officials saying it is safe.
‘There’s a big concern because they’re young. They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them,’ she said. ‘I don’t want this to impact them down the road. I want them to have a long, happy life.’
And at a community meeting last week, Ayla Antoniazzi said she made sure to air her house out and wash all the linens before bringing her children home after evacuation orders were lifted on February 9.
‘But the next day when they wake up, they weren’t themselves,’ she said.
‘My oldest had a rash on her face. The youngest did too, but not as bad.
‘The 2 year old was holding her eyes and complaining that her eye was hurting. So I took them back to my parents’ home.’
In response, the state is planning to open a health clinic in East Palestine on Ohio for the residents.
It will have registered nurses, mental health specialists and, at times, a toxicologist.
‘I heard you, the state heard you and now the Ohio Department of Health and many of our partner agencies are providing this clinic where people can come and discuss these vital issues with medical providers,’ Department Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff said in a statement.
The Biden administration also announced that it deployed experts to help assess the dangers in the area after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine requested medical teams from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health.
Still, local, state and federal officials have insisted that the area is safe for residents.
Air quality tests conducted in more than 530 local homes have shown no detection of contaminants, the US Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday.
And no vinyl chloride was detected in any down-grade waterways near the train derailment, EPA official Tiffany Kavalier told CNN.
The agency also noted that after Norfolk Southern crews conducted a ‘controlled explosion’ of five train cars carrying vinyl chloride to prevent a fatal explosion, crews checked the air for chemicals and reported that the levels were normal.
The freight train carrying dangerous chemicals was en route to Pennsylvania when it derailed
Cleanup efforts are continuing at the derailment site in East Palestine two weeks after the crash
An aerial photo shows crews removing contaminated soil from the crash site on Saturday
Norfolk Southern officials exploded five train cars carrying vinyl chloride on February 6 in an effort to prevent a fatal explosion. The charred debris of the trains are seen here
The company is now ‘scrapping and removing rail cars at the derailment location’
But Sen. Sherrod Brown told CNN that residents are ‘right to be skeptical.
‘We think the water is safe,’ he said. ‘But when you return to your home, you should be tested again for your water and your soil and your air, not to mention those that have their own wells.’
Famed environmentalist Erin Brockovich is now planning to visit the town on Friday to meet with residents about their concerns related to these toxic chemicals.
She tweeted Sunday that she plans to work with the victims so that they can ‘get justice, know their legal rights’ and ‘hold the railroad accountable.’
US Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also sent Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw a letter demanding accountability and calling for greater safety regulations after it was revealed that the rail company fought back against an Obama-era rule requiring new brakes be installed on trains and have been making their trains extra long to carry more cargo.
‘The people of East Palestine cannot be forgotten, nor can their pain be simply considered the cost of doing business,’ Buttigieg wrote.
‘You have previously indicated to me that you are committed to meeting your responsibilities to the community, but it is clear that area residents are not satisfied with the information, presence and support they are getting from Norfolk Southern in the aftermath and recovery.’
And Sen. Brown pledged to hold the railroad company accountable, saying in a news conference he would ‘make sure Norfolk Southern does what it says it’s going to do, what it’s promised.
‘All the cleanup, all the drilling, all the testing, all the hotel stays, all of that is on Norfolk Southern,’ he said. ‘They caused it, there’s no question they caused it.’
Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw made a rare appearance in East Palestine, Ohio on Sunday
He was spotted outside his multimillion dollar home by DailyMail.com reporters, and said he remains committed to the residents of East Palestine
US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, left, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, right, are demanding Norfolk Southern be held accountable to the residents of East Palestine
On Sunday, Shaw, apologized to residents for the derailment and insisted that the company will work to mitigate the effects of the toxic chemicals in the town.
‘This has been devastating to the community,’ he told WKBN.
‘I want to make sure you understand, I am terribly sorry that this happened to the community,’ Shaw added. ‘Norfolk Southern is fully committed to doing what is right for this community.’
The $4.5million-a-year CEO also told DailyMail.com: ‘We remain committed to the citizens of East Palestine.’
The company is now ‘scrapping and removing rail cars at the derailment location, excavating contaminated areas, removing liquids from affected storm drains, and staging recovered waste for transportation to an approved disposal facility,’ the EPA said Sunday.
‘Air monitoring and sampling will continue until removal of heavily contaminated soil in the derailment area is complete, and odors subside in our community.’