A group of farmers and public officials, including Brian Baldrige, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (center) gathered in a church basement in Salem, Ohio to receive updates and discuss worries regarding the February train derailment in East Palestine.

East Palestine update

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences announced finalized results from plant tissue sample testing on East Palestine area crops near the site of the Norfolk Southern train derailment.

Analysis of scientific data by OSU shows plant materials from agricultural sites in the East Palestine area are not contaminated with semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) associated with the train derailment. Using U.S. EPA-approved methods, ODA’s plant health inspectors collected plant tissue samples from 16 agricultural areas in Columbiana County last month. All samples — including winter wheat, pasture grasses, malting barley, and forage covers — were taken within a five-mile radius of the train derailment site. Samples collected and tested closest to the derailment site (inner radius) were considered the most likely for potential contamination, and plant tissue samples collected farther from the derailment site (background radius) were tested to serve as a baseline comparison. OSU’s analysis did not find reportable levels of SVOCs in the inner or background radius zones attributable to the train derailment. 

All samples were analyzed for the same 26 selected SVOCs the U.S. EPA has been testing for in soil samples. OSU scientists used an EPA-approved method (8270e) routinely used to identify and quantify SVOCs in materials. ODA Director Brian Baldridge and OSU staff met with the East Palestine landowners where plant material samples had been previously collected to review the results.

Hazardous waste removal

According to Ohio EPA, approximately 17.3 million gallons of liquid wastewater have been hauled out of East Palestine in total. There is currently a pile of approximately 28,400 tons of excavated soil waiting for removal from East Palestine, versus 41,900 tons that have been removed. 

East Palestine municipal drinking water

The latest drinking water results have been posted from the East Palestine Municipal Water System and continue to show no indication of contaminants associated with the derailment. The public water system continues to meet all state and federal standards for safe drinking water. Sentinel and monitoring well sampling also show no indication that chemicals associated with the derailment are moving toward the East Palestine well field.

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