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DeWine's Office Releases Latest Update on East Palestine Disaster

The press release addresses many areas of expected concern

On the afternoon of Feb. 17, 2023, Governor Mike DeWine provided the following updates regarding East Palestine.

The state of Ohio will set up a medical clinic in East Palestine next week to engage with residents, answer questions, evaluate any symptoms, and provide medical expertise.

In response to a request from DeWine and other lawmakers, including Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will send federal officials to East Palestine to support the clinic.

"We know the science says that East Palestine is safe, but we also know that residents are very worried," said DeWine. "They are asking themselves 'Is my headache just a headache? Or is it a result of the chemical spill? Are other medical symptoms caused by the spill?' Those are very legitimate questions and residents deserve answers."

Working with the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA, HHS teams will begin seeing patients early next week. Teams will include national experts on the impacts of chemical exposure.   The location of the clinic and hours are will be announced on when this information is available.

Because of the tremendous toll the train derailment has had on residents in East Palestine, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is supporting the county Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board to ensure that residents know what resources are available. More information will be available soon at

In addition to local resources, the Ohio Careline, 1-800-720-9616, is open 24 hours a day and staffed with trained mental health professionals who are there to listen and help. All calls are free and confidential. They can also connect you with local resources if follow-up care is needed.

Due to a lack of emergency being declared by certain parties, East Palestine currently does not qualify for FEMA assistance. Although FEMA is synonymous with disaster support, they are most typically involved with disasters where there is tremendous home or property damage such as tornadoes, flooding, and hurricanes. However, to ensure that East Palestine can receive assistance from FEMA should this disaster qualify for FEMA aid in the future, DeWine is preemptively filing a request with FEMA to preserve these rights.

Twenty air monitors, strategically located throughout the community by U.S. EPA and an independent contractor, continue to monitor outdoor air. Those monitors, which are not detecting contamination from the derailment, continue to be moved throughout the area to collect samples from various locations.   

The U.S. EPA, in partnership with an independent contractor, also continue to monitor the air in and around East Palestine.  To date, the air has been sampled in 500 homes with no detections of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with the train derailment. More than two dozen additional homes are scheduled for air testing today. Teams are still taking appointments for those who wish to schedule a screening. To make an appointment, call 330-849-3919.

Apart from the derailment, VOCs are generally present in things such as paint, flooring, carpet, furniture, and cigarette smoke. Although the testing in approximately 75 homes did show elevated levels of VOCs, further testing found that contaminants of concern from the derailment were not present in these homes.

Although testing results from East Palestine’s municipal water source have determined that municipal drinking water is safe to drink, those who get their water from private wells are still encouraged to use bottled water until their water is tested.

Testing results are pending for 38 private wells and more wells are scheduled for testing today. To schedule testing for your private well, call 330-849-3919.

The chemical plume of butyl acrylate in the Ohio River has dissipated.

The level of concern for this contaminant is 560 parts per billion, and readings yesterday were under 3 parts per billion. Water testing on the Ohio River is no longer detecting the presence of butyl acrylate or any other contaminant associated with the derailment.

Visible chemical contamination in the section of Sulphur Run that is directly near the crash site should be expected, and this area should be avoided.

Very soon after the crash, Sulphur Run was dammed so that the contamination in that part of the creek does not contaminate other waterways. Teams are pumping clean creek water from the point of the eastern dam, funneling it away from the contaminated section of the creek, and releasing it back into Sulphur Run at the western dam. This allows clean water to bypass the area of the derailment and prevents clean creek water from picking up contaminants and carrying them into other waterways.

The remediation of the impacted area of the creek is expected to take time, and residents are encouraged to avoid that area.

In regard to waste removal, it should be noted: 

  • Contaminated Soil: To date, 8,350 cubic yards of contaminated soil have been removed from the immediate area of the derailment. This soil has been moved into containers and stockpiled for proper disposal. 
  • Contaminated Water: Although most contaminants did not enter local waterways, contaminants are pooling at the derailment site in puddles and ditches. A total of 1.1 million gallons of contaminants and contaminated liquid have been removed from the immediate site and stockpiled for proper disposal. 

Additional information related to the cleanup process, including contact phone numbers, press conference videos, FAQs, water and air sampling information and previous updates can be found here. You can read the press release as it was distributed to the media late Friday afternoon by selecting this link.

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