EPA lists 4 chemicals released in derailment

A letter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency delivered to the Norfolk Southern Railway Co. Friday lists several chemicals released into the environment from the company’s Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine that have not been discussed publicly before.

The letter, posted on the U.S. EPA website, is called a “general notice of potential liability,” and its purpose is to notify the company that it “may be responsible” under the federal Superfund law for cleanup of the site or the costs the EPA has incurred in cleaning it up.

The letter lists vinyl chloride, the chemical officials have mentioned extensively during press conferences as a hazardous material that was released, but it adds these materials to the list: ethylhexyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and butyl acrylate and says the four “either are known to have been and continue to be released to the air, surface soils and surface waters.”

The last of the four has been mentioned in some news reports, but the two others do not seem to have been mentioned.

The letter also states air and water sampling showed that “materials released during the incident were observed and detected in samples from Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and the Ohio River.” Such materials also were “observed entering storm drains,” it states.

And there were rail cars and tankers “derailed, breached and/or on fire that included, but were not limited to, the following materials: vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate.”

Five rail car tankers of vinyl chloride werebreached intentionally , and the vinyl chloride was diverted to an excavated trench and then burned off, the letter states.

It says “Areas of contaminated soil and free liquids were observed and potentially covered and / or filled during reconstruction of the rail line including portions of the trench / burn pit that was used for the open burn-off of vinyl chloride.”

The letter asked Norfolk Southern to respond within one day to indicate the company’s “willingness to perform or finance the activities to address contamination caused by the incident.”

When the public information office of the U.S. EPA was asked whether the additional list of materials in the letter should be of concern to people living in the area, spokesperson Rachel Bassler said “the EPA is not aware of any new air hazards associated with the site but continue to conduct air monitoring. EPA was aware of the chemicals in the list and has been actively monitoring for these chemicals, and a range of other chemicals as well, throughout the response.”

When asked whether the soil contamination mentioned in the letter poses a hazard to residents, she said the Ohio EPA “is addressing soil contamination in the derailment area with Norfolk Southern. OEPA will work with the railroad to develop a long-term remediation plan to address all soil contamination on the site to include any potential contamination that may exist under the new tracks.”

A man identified as “Nick Drom” posted a video on the social media platform TikTok commenting on the letter, saying the ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene and butyl acrylate have either never been mentioned before or are only being mentioned this weekend.

An email to Norfolk Southern about the letter brought this response: “I would refer you to the comments made by the Ohio and U.S. EPA at the press conference on Wednesday that addressed air and water quality. They are the experts and have provided regular updates on environmental issues throughout the incident.

“Additionally, Norfolk Southern is offering in-home air monitoring, well water testing and other services free of charge through its Family Assistance Center in partnership with local and federal agencies. We will continue to work with all stakeholders to remediate the site, which will take several weeks.”


Meanwhile, additional federal lawsuits have been filed over the East Palestine derailment, including one filed Thursday by Andrew Erdos, David Anderson and Valley View Mobile Home Park against Norfolk Southern Corp and 20 John Does.

Erdos owns property on Madden Road in Galilee, Pa., about 10 miles east of East Palestine. Anderson lives on Echo Valley Road in New Galiliee, about 8.5 miles from East Palestine. The mobile home park also is on Echo Valley Road.

The mobile home has “suffered a loss of business income and goodwill” because of the derailment and the dispersement of dangerous chemicals, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks to be certified a class action on behalf of all individuals who resided, owned property, worked or operated businesses within a 30-mile radius of the derailment. Youngstown is 18 miles from East Palestine.

Also, Vito Abruzzino, Columbiana County prosecutor, issued a press release Friday, saying the two misdemeanor criminal charges filed in Columbiana County Municipal Court against Evan Lambert, a NewsNation reporter arrested at a Wednesday press conference in East Palestine, will be prosecuted by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The release stated that “as additional information” regarding Lamber’s arrest became available, it became apparent that the matter involves individuals from multiple state and local agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard.

“Given the complex nature of the parties involved, and in coordination with local and state officials, the matter concerning the arrest of Mr. Evan Lambert-McMichael will be forwarded and handled by the Office of the Ohio Attorney General (OAG), Dave Yost, and their Special Prosecutions Division,” Abruzzino stated.



Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.85/week.

Subscribe Today