About 50 train cars derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3 due to a toxic chemical spill. Here’s what we can CHECK.

About 50 train cars, including some carrying hazardous materials, derailed in a fiery wreck in East Palestine, Ohioon Friday, February 3.

A few days after the derailment, a toxic chemical called vinyl chloride was thrown from some of the cars and burned, resulting in a large puff of smoke by area. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate during what officials called a “controlled release.”

A few days after the train derailment, numerous statements appeared on social networks.

Some peopleincluding Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.)claimed in viral reports that the journalists were arrested days after the derailment.

Others to have tweeted about the death of fish and livestock after the derailment.

Here’s what we can VERIFY about the Ohio train derailment.

This story will be updated as new information becomes available. Have a question about a derailment? Email questions@verifythis.com.


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1. Ohio State officials say the controlled burn prevented a possible “catastrophic” explosion.

Days after the derailment, five cars containing a chemical called vinyl chloride were “unstable” and threatened to explode, This was reported in the office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine.

DeWine said at a press conference on February 14 that the potential explosion was described by him as “catastrophic,” with deadly debris flying up to a mile from the derailment.

Due to the risk of an explosion, Northfolk Southern Railroad conducted a controlled release of vinyl chloride in five railcars. That release involved the burning of toxic chemicals, sending up a huge plume of smoke and forcing residents to evacuate due to the risk of inhaling potentially deadly fumes.

2. The train cars that derailed were carrying vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals.

The carriages of the train that had derailed were being transported many toxic chemicalsincluding vinyl chloride.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless and flammable gas, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health. It is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes, wire coatings, car upholstery, and plastic tableware, among other products.

According to the federal government’s National Cancer Instituteexposure to vinyl chloride has been linked to an increased risk of liver, brain, and lung cancer, as well as lymphoma and leukemia.

When vinyl chloride is burned, as it was during the release, it produces chemicals such as hydrogen chloride and phosgene, According to the Center for Disease Control. US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was monitoring levels of these chemicals, along with others, after a derailment.

Phosgene was “widely” used as a weapon during World War I, According to the Center for Disease Control. Exposure to phosgene can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and even death.

Exposure to hydrogen chloride can cause skin, nose, eye, and throat irritation. CDC says.

There was an evacuation on February 8 raised for the people in Eastern Palestine after air quality samples showed no dangerous levels of the chemicals, according to DeWine’s office.

As of February 12, the EPA had tested 291 homes in the area and found none of them to contain vinyl chloride or hydrogen chloride. According to the latest update, the federal agency still needs to inspect 181 homes.

3. Approximately 3,500 fish died after the derailment.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), the toxic chemical spill from the derailment killed approximately 3,500 fish of 12 different species. None of the fish are endangered species.

ODNR wildlife officers found dead fish in several areas near the train derailment, the spokesman said.

The department continues to work with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and a company hired by rail operator Norfolk Southern to determine the number of fish kills.

“Most of the fish that have died ‘appear to be small suckers, minnows, darters and minnows,'” an ODNR spokesperson told VERIFY in an email.

ODNR has “no evidence that non-aquatic species have been affected by the derailment,” Director Mary Mertz said at a Feb. 14 press conference.

Although some residents of Eastern Palestine have reported the sudden death of animals Following the derailment, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) says the agency “has not received any official reports of animal welfare related to the incident.”

After the train derailment in Ohio, “the food supply is secure and the risk to livestock remains low,” the spokesman said.

Anyone who notices unusual behavior in their animal or pet should contact their local veterinarian for further guidance, according to the ODA.

4. Pollutants move down the Ohio River.

“Chemicals that burn when burned” flowed into the Ohio River after the derailment, Tiffany Kovalec, chief of surface water at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, confirmed at a Feb. 14 press conference.

“The Ohio River is very large, and it’s a body of water that has the ability to dilute pollutants quite quickly,” she said.

What Kovalec called a “plume” of pollution is currently moving down the river at about a mile per hour.

According to Kovalec, the Ohio EPA and other state agencies are tracking the plume of pollutants in “real time,” allowing water companies to close water intakes and treat drinking water. She added that the EPA currently sees “very low levels of contamination” in the river.

“We are quite confident that these low levels are not being passed on to customers,” Kovalec said.

West Virginia American Water said it is improving the water treatment process as a precaution and installing a secondary water intake on the Gayandot River in case it needs to switch to an alternative water source.

5. Health authorities recommend bottled water for residents of East Palestine.

While there is “no indication” that the city’s water supply in East Palestine is unsafe, officials are recommending that area residents use bottled water until all water sources are tested, said Ohio Department of Health Director Bruce M.D. Vanderhof during a press conference on February 14. conference.

Testing of the city’s water source continues, but the results are not yet available.

Residents of eastern Palestine who use private water sources, such as wells, should also test their water, Vanderhoff said. They can request this testing by calling 330-849-3919.

Ohio EPA officials confirmed that soil testing is also underway.

6. Norfolk Southern donated money to the Ohio Red Cross and the people of East Palestine.

After the derailment, some people claimed it was viral online messages that Norfolk Southern donated $25,000 to East Palestine – a small amount of money for a multi-billion dollar company.

South Norfolk, which appears worth almost 55 billion dollarsdid donate $25,000 to the Ohio Red Cross to support a shelter set up at East Palestine High School.

But the company offers additional help to residents in addition to Red Cross donations.

South Norfolk says the press release on Feb. 13 that he is “developing a charitable fund to support the East Palestine community” after the derailment, but did not provide further details about the fund.

The company says it has also distributed more than $1 million to residents of East Palestine to cover evacuation costs. This includes compensation and advances for accommodation, travel, food, clothing and other items.

Other relief efforts by Norfolk Southern include the donation of more than 100 air purifiers for residents to use in their homes and a $220,000 donation to the East Palestine Fire Department to replace air bags that allow firefighters to breathe compressed air, according to a news release. by air during the response. to fires.

Norfolk Southern says it is also working to help local businesses affected.

7. The charges were dropped after the reporter was arrested while covering the derailment.

A criminal case has been opened NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was fired after he was arrested while reporting live from Governor DeWine’s press conference on the derailment, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced on February 15.

Lambert was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass, Yost said.

“While in some situations journalists can be prosecuted for intrusion, this incident is not one of them,” Yost said. “The reporter legally attended a press conference called by the governor of the state. His behavior was consistent with the purpose of the event and his role as a reporter.”

Lambert was arrested on February 8, 2023 by the East Palestine Police Department says the press release which has since been removed from its Facebook page. NewsNation confirmed in the report that Lambert was released from prison the same day.

Police described Lambert’s report from the East Palestine High School as “loud” and said representatives of several agencies told him to stop the live report “to ensure that all members of the media receive the necessary security information.”

then, as shown in body camera footage obtained by VERIFY partner station WKYC, Ohio National Guard Adjutant General John Harris and Lambert-McMichael began arguing. Harris told officers that Lambert-McMichael lunged at him “aggressively,” prompting Harris to push Lambert away because he “felt threatened,” East Palestine police said.

Authorities then asked Lambert-McMichael to leave the building several times, but he refused to do so, police said.

As authorities escorted Lambert-McMichael out of the building, “he attempted to escape” and was arrested for criminal trespass, East Palestine police said.

At that time, Lambert-McMichael “resisted arrest” and was knocked to the ground during the struggle, according to police. He was eventually taken to the Columbiana County Jail.

Yost said “tensions were high in the days after the derailment” and “local officials appear to have followed the National Guard.”

“Regardless of the intentions, the arrest of a journalist reporting on a press conference is a serious matter,” he said. “Ohio protects a free press under its constitution, and state officials should exercise greater restraint when exercising arrest powers.”

In a statement released via Twitter on February 15Lambert said he was “grateful” to those who helped secure his release and the eventual dismissal of charges that “should never have been brought.”

“I’m fine. And I’ll be fine. I will also continue to do my job without fear or favor in the service of the public,” Lambert wrote. “I also hope that what happened to me will bring additional attention to the people of eastern Palestine, who rightly have questions about their safety in light of environmental hazards.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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