A Norfolk Southern train transporting hazardous chemicals derailed and started a fire that engulfed the nearby town of East Palestine, OH in smoke. Authorities set up an evacuation zone, and a controlled release of the toxic fumes was greenlit to avoid an explosion. Consequently, many residents had to vacate the area while the toxic chemicals were burned.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there have been no “levels of concern” from the released substances, but this has done little to allay locals’ fears. Norfolk Southern has donated over $1.2 million to those who were displaced, however, people in the area are demanding further action from the company to take responsibility for any lasting or acute harm that the hazardous substances may have caused.
Those who were injured in the Norfolk Southern train crash may be able to pursue a toxic tort case against the company if there is proof of negligence. As previously discussed, toxic tort cases are highly intricate and require victims to prove that the company was responsible for the injury. It is important to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney familiar with toxic tort cases. Contact our lawyers now for a free consultation to learn more about your options.
Trace amounts of the chemicals were uncovered in the Ohio River, which travels through and borders neighboring states, including Pennsylvania. Right after the fire, the harmful chemicals evidently began affecting the environment as locals noticed dead fish and frogs in nearby streams, plus further reports of effects on local wildlife. Environmental experts explained that, though fish and frogs were found dead, the area’s drinking water is obtained from the groundwater, thus, it would take more time for the chemicals to reach it. Of course, the lasting effect of the chemicals on the drinking water will be unknown for some time.
The East Palestine Fire Department lifted the evacuation order, and after returning home, many residents reported a burning sensation in their eyes and a strange smell. Over 400 people asked for air quality testing in their homes, and about half of these tests have been finished. The Environmental Protection Agency has not identified any hazardous elements inside the homes, yet they are continuing to monitor the air outdoors. Health officials also plan to take soil samples and dig out any contaminated areas. The issue is complicated by the fact that a large amount of the toxins spilled into a ditch.
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An immediate concern of state health officials was vinyl chloride, a colorless, combustible gas typically utilized to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, furniture, and plastic items. Inhaling vinyl chloride heightens the possibility of liver cancer, brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.
An updated list from Norfolk Southern has revealed that, in addition to the vinyl chloride released after the crash, more hazardous chemicals are present. These include:
Isobutylene is a clear gas that has a faint petroleum smell. It is used for manufacturing O-rings, cling wrap, window seals, and jet fuel.
Isobutylene is an extremely hazardous chemical, and exposure at high concentrations can lead to coma and even death. Additionally, it is highly flammable, and coming into contact with liquid Isobutylene can cause frostbite.
Ethylhexyl Acrylate is clear, colorless, and doesn’t mix with water. It’s a substance commonly used to make resins for paints, latex, adhesives, and leather finishes and coatings.
Inhaling ethylhexyl acrylate can lead to drowsiness and seizures. Moreover, exposure to the liquid form of the compound could result in skin or eye irritation. The Environmental Protection Agency has reported a potential link between occupational exposure to ethyl acrylate/methyl methacrylate and colorectal cancer, although further research is needed.
Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether is a clear liquid commonly utilized as a dissolvent in paint, brake fluid, and household cleaners.
It is possible for ethylene glycol monobutyl ether to form volatile peroxides, which can be explosive and can be taken into the body in various ways, such as inhalation, topically, or by consumption. Short-term exposure to the chemical may lead to skin, eye, and respiratory system irritation. It can also affect the central nervous system, blood, kidneys, and liver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that it can even result in blood in the urine (hematuria).
The evacuations were meant to protect people from the potentially fatal blast, however, specialists have warned that there is still the possibility of coming into contact with the materials that have been left in the ground. This has understandably caused anxiety among residents, especially since it involves the safety and well-being of their families.
A few days after the train crash, legislators became aware of the magnitude of the ecological disaster. Inhabitants of the town now insist that Norfolk Southern pay for medical evaluations for potentially severe illnesses that could result from contact with hazardous substances.
If it is discovered that Norfolk Southern did not take reasonable caution when transporting hazardous materials, they may be held accountable. If it can be proven that the company dismissed the security of the public, they could be responsible. Despite the possibility of legal action, anyone who might have been affected by the accident should seek medical attention immediately.
If you’re ready to hire an experienced personal injury attorney for your toxic tort lawsuit—or just learn more about your legal rights and options—the next step is a free consultation with Console & Associates, P.C. Call 866-778-5500 today or contact us online to get started.