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East Palestine Train Derailment & Toxic Exposure Investigation

The Lyon Firm is investigating the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment incident on behalf of plaintiffs and victims impacted by chemical exposure and property contamination.

On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train transporting a large number of chemicals derailed and exploded. In the aftermath of the accident, a “controlled release” of toxic chemicals sent residents of East Palestine scrambling for safety.

Photos were captured in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania of black clouds of smoke rising from the scene of the accident and chemical spill. The full reason for the accident and the health risks are still being investigated.

What Happened?

A Norfolk Southern train traveling from Illinois to Pennsylvania derailed and caught fire. At least 20 of the train’s cars were carrying hazardous materials.

Not until three days later did Ohio Governor Mike DeWine order an evacuation of the area surrounding East Palestine in both Ohio and Pennsylvania, noting “toxic fumes” of Vinyl Chloride.

What is a Controlled Release?

Five rail cars worth of vinyl chloride was diverted to an excavated trench and then burned off. The release involved trying to contain the toxic chemicals and burning them. Obviously, the risk of chemical inhalation was the reason for the evacuation but was it too late or is there still a risk of toxic exposure?

The following chemicals were potentially released:

  • Vinyl chloride
  • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether
  • Ethylhexyl acrylate
  • Isobutylene
  • Butyl acrylate

What is Vinyl Chloride?

VC is a commonly used industrial chemical in the production of plastic packaging, pipes, and wire coating made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Vinyl chloride is very flammable. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), inhaling VC may increase your risk of liver cancers like hepatic angiosarcoma and hepatocellular carcinoma, brain cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia.

Is it safe to Stay in East Palestine?

East Palestine residents are dubious as to the safety of returning to their homes. They have noted their reluctance, and said they have not been informed of the exact hazards of living in the chemical contamination zone.

The toxic clouds are gone, but what remains? The people wonder about the air quality and water supply. Once toxic chemicals are released into the environment it can take years to clean them, if possible in any time frame.

EPA has warned that ethylhexyl acrylate can cause burning on the skin and in the eyes, coughing and shortness of breath; isobutylene can make people dizzy and drowsy; and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether can cause coughing, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, nausea, and weakness if inhaled.

The EPA has recorded toxic materials released in the following water sources:

  • Sulphur Run
  • Leslie Run
  • Bull Creek
  • North Fork Little Beaver Creek
  • Little Beaver Creek
  • Ohio River

One resident spoke about the situation on the ground after the ordered evacuations: “You could taste it in the air. It was like a mix of gasoline, paint thinner and nail polish remover.” .

The EPA has declared the air safe, and many residents have returned because what other options do they have?

The Lyon Firm has experience handling difficult property contamination and toxic exposure cases in Ohio and nationwide. Contact the firm for a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.