2023 Toxic Train Derailment in Ohio Becomes Environmental Disaster

Maria Gonzalez, Website Editor

On February 3, 2023, a train was derailed from its tracks in East Palestine, Ohio around 8:55 pm EST.  A Norfolk Southern freight train containing 38 cars of hazardous material derailed. This became a massive concern for the environment and the people who live around the area of the accident.

Fire and smoke from train derailment (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A man-made cancer-causing substance called vinyl chloride was spilled, as well as ethylene glycol mono butyl ether, Ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate.

All these chemicals lead to health issues. Some of the symptoms associated with these chemicals are shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, and nausea just to name a few. Residents were advised to leave the area because residents began getting sick and experiencing headaches–a major sign that the area was no longer safe.

Air monitor (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Due to the derailment, there was an environmental concern for the wildlife nearby. Fish and aquatic life in lakes and nearby water sources were showing up dead. Water was safe to drink, but people were still advised not to drink the water and instead were advised to drink from water bottles.


To help reduce the damage officials intentionally burned off some of the chemicals and evacuated the residents because of the high risk of cars exploding. Firefighters continued to work hard to control the blaze and the smoke.

One resident said, “Why are people getting sick if there’s nothing in the air or in the water?” According to npr.org., there has been a lack of answers and residents are getting frustrated with officials for this.