Home News Gov. Dewine Calls on Congress for Action on East Palestine Chemical Spill

Gov. Dewine Calls on Congress for Action on East Palestine Chemical Spill


East Palestine – EPA says that they are discontinuing monitoring for certain chemicals in the air but are still on the scene looking for other contamination.

In a statement EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore said, “EPA Region 5’s number one priority is – and will always be – the health and safety of communities across the region. That’s why as soon as EPA was notified of the Norfolk Southern train derailment on Friday, February 3, EPA personnel were on-site by 2 a.m. Saturday morning to assist with air monitoring. Since then, EPA has been boots-on-the-ground, leading robust air-quality testing – including with the state-of-the-art ASPECT plane  and a mobile analytical laboratory – in and around East Palestine.”

Shore said that “since the fire went out on February 8, EPA air monitoring has not detected any levels of health concern in the community that are attributed to the train derailment. Air monitoring data were provided to state health agencies on February 8 for review prior to the state’s decision to lift the evacuation.”

On the evening of Feb. 13, U.S. EPA discontinued air monitoring for phosgene and hydrogen chloride community air monitoring. After the fire was extinguished on Feb. 8, the threat of vinyl chloride fire-producing phosgene and hydrogen chloride no longer exists. U.S. EPA will continue 24-hour community air monitoring for other chemicals of concern.  

As of the end of the day February 13th, U.S. EPA has screened indoor air at 396 homes, with 100 homes remaining, and 65 homes on the schedule for today. 

On February 11, 2023, the EPA informed Norfolk Southern that they would have a “potential liability” after the release or threat of release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants to the environment following the train derailment. The letter outlines EPA cleanup actions at the site and the potential to hold the railroad accountable for associated costs. The letter can be found under the Documents section of this website

EPA Region 5 is also working closely with Ohio EPA to determine what impact the spill has had on surface and groundwater. State and local agencies are conducting sampling throughout the Ohio River to ensure drinking water intakes aren’t affected, and EPA is continuing to assist the state with sampling efforts at water treatment intake points along the Ohio River.

Governor Dewine fired back at Norfolk Southern who said that they were “not required” to tell the state what was in the cars because the train was not considered a “hazardous material train.” Dewine said that was absurd and asked Congress to take action.

Four different waterways have been impacted by contamination. ODNR estimates 3,500 fish have been killed across those waterways.

EPA said that they were concentrating on the air, but now are paying attention to the water. They said that the contamination plume is moving down the Ohio river now and is in the area of Huntington.

Ohio Department of Health encourages people that have a private well in the area to get the water tested and that cost will be covered, and recommended to use bottled water until they get the test results from municipal water sources.

“Our objective is to do everything we can to get this cleaned up as quickly as we can by continuing to talk and what we’re doing. Hope that people will have confidence in what’s going on,” DeWine said, “The railroad caused this problem. They will be held accountable. They will not be any shortcuts.”

Railroads function on Federal rules and control their own train safety