EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Three more chemicals have been found on the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in Ohio just over a week ago, and they are being described as dangerous.
“We basically nuked a town with chemicals so we could get a railroad open,” said Sil Caggiano, a hazardous materials specialist.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent a letter to Norfolk Southern stating that ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene were also in the rail cars that were derailed, breached and/or on fire.
The freight train derailment on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania state line left a mangled and charred mass of boxcars and flames as authorities launched a federal investigation and monitored air quality from the various hazardous chemicals in the train.
Caggiano said ethylhexyl acrylate is especially concerning since it’s a carcinogen and contact with it can cause burning and irritation of the skin and eyes. Breathing it in can irritate the nose and throat and cause coughing and shortness of breath.
Isobutylene is also known to cause dizziness and drowsiness when inhaled.
“I was surprised when they quickly told the people they can go back home, but then said if they feel like they want their homes tested, they can have them tested. I would’ve far rather they did all the testing,” Caggiano said.
Caggiano says it’s possible some of these chemicals could still be present in homes and on objects until you clean them thoroughly.
“There’s a lot of what-ifs, and we’re going to be looking at this thing five, 10, 15, 20 years down the line and wondering, ‘Gee, cancer clusters could pop up, you know, well water could go bad,'” Caggiano said.
Caggiano recommends that anyone in the East Palestine area should get a health check-up so there is documentation in the event of any effects possibly related to the train derailment.
About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery crash on Feb. 3. Vinyl chloride was later released into the air from five of those cars before crews ignited it to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.
Residents from nearby neighborhoods in Ohio and Pennsylvania were evacuated because of health risks from the fumes, but have since been allowed to return.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.