EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — The fire in East Palestine is still burning as community members figure out what the new week will bring.
First responders are still waiting until it’s safe enough to head back to the scene before it can be cleared.
In the meantime, Norfolk Southern has released a fact sheet listing several chemicals being carried by the train. Some of those contents include hazardous and non-hazardous materials.
Chemicals on derailed train in East Palestine
- vinyl chloride
- butyl acrylate
- benzene residue
- combustible liquids
Below is a description of each chemical and the potential dangers of each.
Vinyl chloride is a colorless gas that burns easily. It has a wide variety of usages and is often used to make casings that go on the outside of electrical wires.
Vinyl Chloride is known to cause cancer. According to Cancer.gov, vinyl chloride exposure is associated with an increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer, as well as primary liver cancer, brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.
Although this is a list of the chemicals on the train, it is still unclear which chemicals, if any, are burning. However, officials have stated they are concerned with the rail car containing the vinyl chloride.
“Vinyl chloride in of itself is cancerous. Some of the other stuff is just as bad. The hydrogen chloride is bad enough that when you inhale it, it mixes with the water in your lungs and you could have acid burns in your lungs,” said hazardous materials specialist Silverio Caggiano.
Butyl acrylate is described as a hazardous, colorless liquid with a fruity strong odor. It is used in the manufacture of polymers and resins, and in paint formulations.
Butyl Acrylate can affect you when inhaled and by passing through the skin. Contact can irritate and burn the skin and eyes and inhaling it can irritate the nose, throat and lungs.
Exposure to Butyl Acrylate can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Repeated exposure can lead to permanent lung damage.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, benzene is a colorless or light yellow chemical with a sweet odor and it highly flammable.
Benzene evaporates into the air very quickly. It dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of water.
Outdoor air contains low levels of benzene from tobacco smoke, gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions.
- People who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop the following signs and symptoms within minutes to several hours:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Death (at very high levels)
It is not clear what type of combustible liquids were on the derailed train. The United States Department of Labor defines combustible liquids as any liquid having a flashpoint at or above 100 °F.
According to the Department of Labor and Industry, “under the Combustible and Flammable Liquids Act, the Department of Labor & Industry is responsible for approving the installation or relocation of tanks, pumps and dispensing devices associated with flammable and combustible liquids.”
This includes ethanol, gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, fuel oil, or any other flammable or combustible liquid that is stored, sold or kept in any location, in an amount exceeding 30 gallons.
The Environmental Protection Agency was at the press conference Sunday. They confirmed some amount of chemical runoff made it into a few creeks in town but say contaminants have not made it into the water supply.
This fire is still burning and crews are waiting until it’s safe to assess the situation.
“As we get that we’re going to put it out,” said Mayor Trent Conaway. “To tell you, you know, as far as all the chemicals in the air, they’re still safe.”
The state of emergency and evacuation orders remain in place.
The mayor and fire chief are asking people to stay away from the site — announcing Sunday night a person was arrested after being on the tracks.
“You come here and start rubbernecking, I will hook you up. You’ll get a tour of the county from here to Lisbon,” said fire chief Keith Drabick.
“We are not aware of any elevated readings that we would anticipate to have impacted human health,” said Kurt Kollar of the EPA Emergency Response Unit.
The EPA is also continuing to monitor the air.
“We have not seen anything above our established screening levels, but as the chief and the mayor have pointed out, it’s a dynamic situation,” said James Justice, the on-scene coordinator of U.S. EPA Emergency Response.
There’s no indication of when people can get back into their homes, but if you have any questions, the mayor is asking you to call 211 for questions and leave dispatch to emergencies.