By now you’ve heard about the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Here’s a breakdown of what has happened so far.
On Friday, February 3, 38 cars of a train derailed near the town, 11 holding hazardous materials. This led to hundreds of residents evacuating their homes. First responders found that one of the cars had contained vinyl chloride, which is used to make polyvinyl chloride, a component of lots of plastic products.
On February 5, those who had not originally evacuated were ordered to leave. Residents needed to leave so crews could conduct a controlled burn of some of the chemicals from the cars.
On February 6, crews began working. They started releasing the chemicals from the cars at risk of exploding. Vinyl chloride was released from the cars to a trough, which was then set on fire, creating the large dark plumes over East Palestine. Officials state that after this burn, crews would begin moving cars off the tracks and put them in a safe area where they will be examined by the National Transportation Safety Boards.
On February 8, the evacuation order was lifted, as East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Debrick stated the air and water samples of the one-mile radius evacuation area proved it was safe to return.
On February 13, a video from an equipment plant in Salem, Ohio, about 20 miles from the incident, showed footage of sparks and flames under one of the cars as it passed the plant. You can watch the video here on CBS.
On February 14, at a press conference, Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine stated the railroad company would be paying for the damages and cleanup of the disaster. The company, Norfolk Southern, is currently under investigation by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
On February 15, the Ohio EPA stated that residents were safe to drink the village water. East Palestine residents gathered for a town hall to express their concerns. Mayor Trent Conoway attended, along with the Director of the Ohio Department of Health Bruce Vanderhoff. Norfolk Southern representatives did not attend.
On February 17, the Biden administration said it would send assistance to East Palestine at the request from Gov. DeWine. DHS and the CDC were sent to deploy medical personnel and toxicologists for public health testing and assessments
On February 18, Ohio Senators Sharrod Brown and J.D. Vance sent a letter to the EPA officials urging them to test for dioxins, which are pollutants created from burning chemicals.