Toxic Chemical Exposure, Property Damage Lawsuits Follow Ohio Train Derailment

Rail operator Norfolk Southern has been hit with a wave of lawsuits following the devastating train derailment that occurred earlier this month. The derailment caused a massive fire and chemical spill that left nearby residents reeling from the potential impacts of toxic chemical exposure and catastrophic property damage. The accident took place on February 3, 2023, when a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials went off the tracks in East Palestine, Ohio. The derailed train burned for several days, leaving a plume of smoke and a slew of toxic chemicals in its wake. According to reports, nearly a dozen cars on the freight train were carrying hazardous chemicals with the potential to have toxic effects on human health and the environment. Some of these containers leaked or burned during the derailment and ensuing fire, which only increased the potential risk of harmful exposure, as these already hazardous chemicals can form new toxic compounds when burned. East Palestine residents affected by the train derailment have been left with unanswered questions about the safety of the air and water and the potential health risks associated with exposure to these chemicals. If you believe you have been harmed by the Ohio train derailment, contact us today to find out how we can help.

Toxic Chemicals Released in Train Derailment

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the two main chemicals released in the Ohio train derailment were vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate, which can lead to health issues ranging from headaches, nausea, and vomiting to liver and lung cancer. To prevent an explosion in the days after the derailment, emergency crews conducted a controlled release of vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen proven to be harmful to human health. In fact, vinyl chloride is one of the handful of toxic chemicals named in recent Camp Lejeune water contamination claims. The other chemicals involved in the Ohio train derailment were ethyl hexyl acrylate and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. “There’s no question that there are chemicals in the mix that have been associated with serious health effects, including cancer,” said Keeve Nachman, a professor of environmental health at Johns Hopkins University, to BBC. “What’s really missing is information about how people come into contact with these chemicals in the air, drinking water or through soil.”

Possible Effects of Chemical Exposure on Human Health

We know that prolonged exposure to chemicals like benzene and vinyl chloride can increase a person’s risk of cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provided assistance in the aftermath of the derailment, says that it has not detected harmful levels of contaminants in the air, and water officials say that while the waterways of the Ohio River are contaminated, the drinking water has not been affected. Still, East Palestine residents have been advised to use private and well water and to drink bottled water to protect themselves from potential exposure to contaminants in the water. In the meantime, residents in and around the East Palestine area have reported experiencing headaches, watery eyes, and sore throats since the accident. And the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says that more than 3,000 fish in the creeks throughout the town have died off.

In addition to the adverse health effects individuals exposed to these toxic chemicals may face now and in the future, there are also those whose livelihoods have been harmed beyond repair due to the train derailment and chemical spill. One East Palestine couple with a once-successful garbage truck business says they can no longer keep the business they devoted their lives to for 18 years open, as dozens of their long-standing customers have canceled their collection services and are planning to relocate. “It’s totally wrecked our life,” John Hamner told BBC. “I’m at the point now where I want out of here. We’re going to relocate. We can’t do it no more.” Like the Hamners, there are other families in East Palestine and surrounding communities that have suffered adverse health effects and catastrophic property damage caused by the derailed train and its toxic cargo. As of mid-February, eight lawsuits have already been filed against Norfolk Southern, alleging negligence and seeking more than $5 million in compensation for property damage, exposure to toxic chemicals, and economic loss due to evacuation.

Find Out if You May Qualify for Financial Compensation

There are a number of serious health concerns for people living in and around the East Palestine area who were affected by the train derailment and spill, including potential risks for pregnant women and unborn babies exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, water, and soil. Unfortunately, the information provided by officials so far does “not paint a clear enough picture of potential exposures,” says Nachman. “The bottom line is this: we need to know if there are continuing chemical releases, what they are, the ways people may be exposed – air, water, and in their homes – and how we can eliminate their exposures.” If you and your family were exposed to toxic chemicals as a result of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, do not hesitate to speak to an attorney about your legal options. Call us today to find out whether you may be eligible to file a legal claim to recover the compensation you and your loved ones deserve for the preventable harm you have suffered.

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