No evidence of contamination found in western Pa. from East Palestine train derailment, DEP says

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — An interim report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says there’s no evidence of contamination in western Pennsylvania related to the East Palestine train derailment.

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A Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous material derailed in East Palestine, Ohio on Feb. 3, 2023. A few days later, a massive explosion during a controlled release of the chemicals inside the train sent heavy black smoke pluming into the air over the small town.

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The derailment resulted in residents displaced from their homes, constant testing and health concerns from people who lived in and around the community.

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The DEP said it and its independent contractor conducted a year of sampling and found no evidence of water or soil contamination related to the derailment in Pennsylvania’s private water wells, surface water and soil.

DEP’s contractor also conducted, and continues to conduct, sampling at three sentinel monitoring wells installed in Pennsylvania by Norfolk Southern near the train derailment location. These wells were put between the derailment site and private properties in Pennsylvania and are used for early detection of groundwater contamination that could have migrated from the derailment site.

The DEP said groundwater in this area has not been impacted by contamination from the derailment.

Samples have been taken at 85 individual private potable water sources, 97 surface soil locations and 18 surface water locations within the commonwealth, totaling hundreds of samples, the DEP said.

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“DEP’s response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment started just over a year ago, and we continue to be on the ground in Beaver and Lawrence counties supporting local communities,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “DEP will continue to work with local partners and its independent contractor to uphold Pennsylvanians’ right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of natural resources. Under the leadership of the Shapiro Administration, DEP will remain committed to addressing residents’ concerns, following the science, and taking action when warranted.”

The contractor made recommendations for additional sampling after evaluating and verifying the data and comparing data to the commonwealth’s environmental standards, the DEP said.

DEP’s independent contractor is in the process of conducting the fourth round of private well sampling and has completed all soil and surface water sampling.

The full interim summary report can be found on DEP’s webpage.

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