Norfolk Southern Train Derailment Prompts Evacuation of 1500 Residents in East Palestine, Ohio

On February 9th, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, carrying hazardous materials including vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol and monobutyl ether. The derailment caused an explosion, prompting the evacuation of 1,500 nearby residents.[0] The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a manifest on February 12th, which showed that the train was carrying a variety of hazardous materials, in addition to five tankers of vinyl chloride.[1]

In response to the derailment, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine sent a letter to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting medical experts to evaluate and counsel members of the community who have questions and/or are experiencing symptoms.[2] Vinyl chloride, which was released as a result of the derailment, is a clear gas used to make polyvinyl chloride and is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer.[3]

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating the derailment and suspects a mechanical issue with a rail car axle as the cause.[4] The EPA has now formally informed Norfolk Southern that it is potentially liable to pay for all clean-up costs related to the derailment.[5]

In addition, tests of the municipal water supply have shown no signs of contamination, though owners of private wells should have them tested before drinking from them.[1] In the meantime, bottled water is available.[1] Emergency response teams are also preparing for rain, which is expected to start as early as Friday morning.

Ohio Senator Joe Manchin has urged President Biden, EPA Administrator Regan, and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to provide a complete picture of the damage and a comprehensive plan to ensure the community is supported in the weeks, months, and years to come.[1]

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and other agencies are actively sampling water at strategic locations and are closing drinking water intakes to prevent any butyl acrylate from entering the drinking water.[6] So far, 3,150 cubic yards of contaminated soil and 942,000 gallons of contaminated water have been removed.[7]

Governor DeWine spoke with White House officials on Thursday morning to request federal help, including assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health and Emergency Response Team, and the CDC.[8] If you think your animal has become unwell due to the train derailment, please reach out to a veterinarian in your area.[6]

0. “After toxic train derailment, Ohio residents report rashes and worries” The Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2023,

1. “EPA chief promises results after Ohio train crash” POLITICO, 16 Feb. 2023,

2. “Ohio train derailment: Gov. Mike DeWine requests CDC send medical experts to East Palestine; emergency response teams preparing for rain”, 16 Feb. 2023,

3. “Is Columbus' water safe from contamination after train derailment?” The Columbus Dispatch, 13 Feb. 2023,

4. “Ohio train derailment: Norfolk Southern train broke down days before derailing in East Palestine” CBS News, 16 Feb. 2023,

5. “What we know about the Ohio train derailment” Axios, 13 Feb. 2023,

6. “Gov. DeWine requests CDC send medical experts to East Palestine immediately” Cleveland 19 News, 16 Feb. 2023,

7. “Ohio Gov. DeWine explains where derailment chemical plume will be ‘sometime tomorrow’” WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland, 16 Feb. 2023,

8. “Senator Sherrod Brown asking Gov. Mike DeWine to declare a disaster, seek federal government support following train derailment in East Palestine”, 16 Feb. 2023,