Saturday, February 25, 2023

Pennsylvania State Actions Last Week On Ohio/PA Train Derailment

Here are highlights of actions by the Shapiro Administration and the General Assembly related to the Ohio/PA train derailment from the week of February 20.

NewsClips from the week’s actions are also posted here.

More information and updates can be found on the PA Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) online Train Derailment Dashboard

Visit DEP’s Train Derailment webpage for additional information.

Feb. 21: Gov. Shapiro Visits Ohio/EPA Train Derailment Site, Beaver County To Give Update Hear More From Residents; Case Referred To AG For Criminal Investigation

On February 21, Gov. Josh Shapiro visited East Palestine, Ohio to provide an update on the Norfolk Southern train derailment alongside United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Governor Mike DeWine. 

Gov. Shapiro also announced the Department of Environmental Protection referred the train derailment to the state Office of Attorney General for criminal investigation.  Read more here.

Gov. Shapiro detailed all of the work his Administration is doing to protect the people of Pennsylvania and the environment, and pledged to work with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Incident Management Teams as they assess and test for environmental and health impacts as part of a sweeping enforcement action to compel Norfolk Southern to conduct and pay for any cleanup actions caused by the derailment.

Gov. Shapiro also visited Darlington Township in Beaver County to meet with residents who received water testing this morning from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Southwest Regional office. 

The Governor’s top priority is to ensure the health and safety of Pennsylvanians who have been affected by this incident.

“From the beginning of the response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment, my Administration has been coordinating with first responders and emergency management personnel, our partners in Ohio, and the federal government,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro. “I’ve heard two messages from folks in Beaver County: we need testing and we need accountability. Our Administration is providing independent water testing to all those who want it in close proximity to the derailment site, and we’ll hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Last week, Governor Josh Shapiro sent a letter to Norfolk Southern Corporation CEO Alan Shaw expressing serious concerns regarding the company’s management of the February 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio after meeting with Beaver County Commissioners and local elected officials.

Pennsylvania continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following the train derailment. 

The Pennsylvania DEP will continue to monitor the safety of Pennsylvania’s air, water, and environment – and ensure Pennsylvanians have the information they need to stay safe in the weeks and months ahead. 

Feb. 22: Gov. Shapiro Ensuring Local PA Fire Departments Are Reimbursed By Norfolk Southern For Contaminated Equipment

On February 22, Gov. Shapiro announced his administration is working to ensure fire departments in Western Pennsylvania are reimbursed by Norfolk Southern for the costs of replacing all equipment contaminated during the response and remediation to the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine on February 3rd.

Fire companies from Beaver, Lawrence, and Washington Counties responded to the derailment and the controlled vent and burn. 

While no fire departments are significantly impeded in being able to respond and serve the public at this point, many have reported contaminated turnout gear, hose, and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) along with some drop tanks for water supply operations.

The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the State Fire Commissioner have reached out directly to local fire departments and are working with them to identify and catalogue their damaged and contaminated equipment, and to streamline submissions to the Norfolk Southern Claims Director.

“Pennsylvanians impacted by this incident are safe right now because of the hard work and public service of first responders and fire departments in Western Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Josh Shapiro. “First responders answered the call – their departments deserve to be made whole and we expect Norfolk Southern to quickly reimburse any department that responded to the derailment and needs to replace equipment. My Administration will continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for any and all impacts on the Commonwealth.”

“Our fire companies and first responders put their health and safety on the line for Pennsylvanians each day – we are proud of the good work they do and we thank them for their service,” said Acting Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook. “In order to continue doing their jobs safely and effectively, our firefighters need the right gear. We urge Norfolk Southern to swiftly reimburse our fire departments, it’s the right thing to do.”

Pennsylvania continues to see no concerning air or water quality readings following this incident.

Feb. 25: DEP Has Collected Water Samples From Nearly Every Private Well In PA Within One Mile Of Norfolk Southern Derailment Site; Results Expected Next Week

On February 25, the Department of Environmental Protection said it has completed collecting samples from 13 of the 16 known residential wells within a mile radius of the derailment site in Pennsylvania and is working to schedule testing of wells between one mile and two miles next week. 

Results from the first round of testing are expected next week.

DEP is proactively contacting residents within a two-mile radius of the train derailment site to initiate water testing. Concerned residents who are beyond the two-mile radius are encouraged to reach out to DEP to request testing by calling 412-442-4000.

“The Department of Environmental Protection has been on the scene since the first hours after the Norfolk Southern train derailment, and we will stay in communities like Darlington Township as long as it takes to assure Pennsylvanians their air, water, and environment are safe,” said Acting DEP Secretary Rich Negrin, who visited communities in Beaver County twice this week. “DEP staff is on the ground right now, professionally and efficiently taking independent samples of drinking water near the derailment site so that Pennsylvanians can have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.”

DEP is using its own laboratories to test for volatile organic compounds that were on some of the train cars, including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol, butyl acrylates, ethylhexyl acrylate, benzene, and ethanol.  

Feb. 23: PA Senate Committee Holds Hearing In Beaver County Highlighting Impacts of Ohio/PA Train Derailment And Emergency Response Efforts

Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chairman Doug Mastriano (R-Adams) hosted a hearing February 23 at Beaver County Community College, where local residents shared their stories in the wake of the Norfolk Southern train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio.

“We want the truth!” said Sen. Doug Mastriano, Majority Chair of the Committee at the beginning of the hearing. “The people affected by this disaster have questions and today’s committee hearing is about providing them with answers.”

Click Here for a summary of the hearing and to watch a video.  Click Here for the hearing agenda.

Upcoming Senate Hearing:

-- February 27-- Senate Transportation Committee holds hearing on hazardous materials moved by rail in PA.  Hearing Room 1, North Office Building. 10:00.  Click Here to watch the hearing online(Click Here for more on the agenda.)

NewsClips - PA Senate Hearing:

-- Sen. Mastriano: PA Senate Committee Hosts Hearing Highlight Effects Of Norfolk Southern Ohio/PA Train Derailment Emergency Response Efforts

-- WESA: PA Leaders Begin To Piece Together What Happened After Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- Post-Gazette - Ford Turner: PA Residents Describe The Horror Of Ohio/PA Train Derailment At PA Senate Hearing; ‘The Whole Sky Was Black’

-- PennLive: PA Residents Near Ohio/PA Train Derailment Ask Not To Be Forgotten: ‘We Count, Too’

-- TribLive: PA Senate Committee Hears 5 Hours Of Testimony On Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- The Center Square - Anthony Hennen: Senate Hearing: Railroad’s Cagey Decisions After Ohio/PA Derailment Impeded Response

-- PennLive - Jan Murphy: Sen. Muth Hospitalized After Senate Hearing On Ohio/PA Train Derailment 

-- Post-Gazette: Norfolk Southern Will Not Attend PA Senate Hearing This Week On Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- ABC27: Sen. Mastriano Visits Ohio/PA Train Derailment Site  [2 PA Senate Hearings Scheduled]

-- Insider: Sen. Mastriano Told Supporters He Didn’t Take Money From Norfolk Southern, Records Show He Took $1,000  

-- The Center Square Guest Essay: Pennsylvania Deserves Answers About Ohio/PA Train Derailment - Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Adams)

-- PA Lawmakers Call For Suspension Of Federal Regulations Allowing Rail Transport Of LNG Natural Gas In Wake Of Train Derailment

NewsClips From Last Week’s Actions:

-- Pennsylvania State Actions Last Week On Ohio/PA Train Derailment [PaEN]

-- NBC News: Gov. Shapiro Said Tuesday DEP Referred The Ohio/PA Train Derailment To The PA Office Of Attorney General For Criminal Investigation 

-- PA Capital-Star: Gov. Shapiro Blasts Norfolk Southern For ‘Arrogance And Incompetence’ In Ohio/Train Derailment

-- Pittsburgh Business Times: Gov. Shapiro Vows To Hold Norfolk Southern Accountability For Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- Shapiro Administration:  Continues to Support Pennsylvanians After Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- PEMA Launches Online Ohio/PA Train Derailment Dashboard

-- PA Emergency Management Agency Opens New Ohio/PA Train Derailment Webpage

-- The Center Square - Anthony Hennen: ‘Forgotten’ Pennsylvania Locals Castigate ‘Pathetic’ Response To Ohio/PA Train Derailment 

-- The Allegheny Front: Activists Look To Outside Researchers For Answers On Soil And Water Safety In Ohio/PA Train Derailment  

-- EPA: Orders Norfolk Southern To Conduct All Cleanup Actions Associated With Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- AP: EPA Takes Charge Of Cleanup In Toxic Ohio/PA Train Derailment 

-- Wilkes-Barre Times: NE PA Congressional Reps Weigh In On Ohio/PA Train Derailment Aftermath

-- Carnegie Science Center Experts Answer Questions About Ohio/PA Train Derailment Impacts

-- Carnegie Science Center Webinar Feb. 23: Ohio/PA Train Derailment; Submit Your Questions  [PaEN]

-- Carnegie Science Center Invites Questions About Ohio/PA Train Derailment; Clean Air Council Welcomes Supplies For Residents

-- PA Lawmakers Call For Suspension Of Federal Regulations Allowing Rail Transport Of LNG Natural Gas In Wake Of Train Derailment

-- WESA: Ohio/PA Train Derailment: Latest News On The Derailment And Cleanup

-- WESA: Pennsylvanians Near Ohio/PA Say They’ve Been Forgotten Across State Lines

-- Altoona Mirror: Ohio/PA Train Derailment Raises Concerns About Local Disaster Preparedness 

-- York Dispatch: Is York County Ready For An Ohio/PA-Type Train Derailment Disaster?

-- The Guardian: U.S. Averaging One Chemical  Accident Every 2 Days From Train Derailments, Pipeline Ruptures, Truck Crashes, Industrial Spills

-- TribLive: How Ohio/PA Train Derailment Impacted PA’s Air, Water Quality

-- Post-Gazette - John Hayes: PA Officials Insist Pollution From Ohio/PA Trail Derailment Not Harming Animals In PA

-- Williamsport Sun: Mission Barn In Williamsport Donates Cleaning Buckets, Supplies To Victims Of Ohio/PA Train Derailment 

-- Erie Times: Even 100+ Miles From Ohio/PA Train Derailment, Residents Are Asking Should I Be Worried?

-- TribLive: Giant Eagle Temporarily Stops Selling Bottled Water Produced At Water Plant Near Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- Inquirer: Philly Grocery Store Selling Bottled Water From Near Ohio/PA Train Derailment, Even As Western PA Grocery Chain Pulls Product

-- Wilkes-Barre Times: Could A Toxic Train Derailment Happen Here?

-- NPR: The Most Thorough Explanation Yet For The Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- AP: Biden Orders Door-to-Door Checks At Ohio/PA Train Derailment Site

-- WESA: Doctor Near Train Derailment Site Details The Main Thing He’s Watching For Now

-- PennLive: Ohio Residents Fear Chemical Leak From Ohio/PA Train Derailment Could Shatter Live, Town Forever: ‘This Is Not OK’

-- TribLive/AP: Did Dioxins Spread After The Ohio/PA Train Derailment?

-- PA Capital-Star Guest Essay: How Dangerous Was The Ohio/PA Chemical Train Derailment?  An Expert Explains

-- PennFuture Blog: Environmental Disaster From Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- WFMJ: New Lawsuit Claims ‘Controlled’ Chemical Burn Worsened Ohio/PA Train Derailment Threats

-- AP: EPA Orders ‘Pause’ In Ohio/PA Train Derailment Waste Removal; 102,000 Gallons Of Liquid Waste In Storage, 4,5000 Cubic Yards Of Solid Waste; More Generated Every Day

-- Norfolk Southern Feb. 20 Update On Ohio/PA Train Derailment Response

-- Norfolk Southern: Orange Flyers On Homes Warning Of Hazardous Chemicals Are Not The Actions Of NS

-- AP: NTSB: No Alert For Train Crew Until Just Before Derailment

-- ProPublica: Norfolk Southern Policy Let’s Official Order Crews To Ignore Safety Alerts

-- AP: U.S. Transportation Secretary Urges Safety Changes After Fiery Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- Altoona Mirror: Former Engineers Say Norfolk Southern Policy Contributes To Train Derailments

-- The Guardian: Safety Regulators Say Ohio/PA Train Derailment ‘100% Preventable’

-- TribLive Guest Essay: Next Train Disaster Is Inevitable

-- CNN: Norfolk Southern Paying $6.5 Million To Ohio/PA Train Derailment Victims; Meanwhile Giving $7.5 Billion To Shareholders 

-- WITF/NPR: Risks For Chemical Spills Are High, But Here’s How To Protect Yourself, Your Community

-- AP: Toxic Wastewater From Ohio/PA Train Derailment Headed To Texas

-- Post-Gazette: Former President, Erin Brockovich To Visit Site Of Ohio/PA Train Derailment

-- AP: Ex-President Criticized Federal Response To Ohio/PA Train Derailment [His Administration Repealed Railroad Safety Regulations]

-- TribLive: Brockovich Steals Show At Ohio/PA Train Derailment Seminar In Ohio

-- TribLive: A Few Things To Know About Erin Brockovich

-- TribLive Editorial: In Wake Of Ohio/PA Train Crash, Norfolk Southern Reps Must Be Seen To Be Believed

Related Articles: 

-- Feb. 22: Gov. Shapiro Ensuring Local PA Fire Departments Are Reimbursed By Norfolk Southern For Contaminated Equipment  [PaEN]

-- Feb. 21: Gov. Shapiro Visits Ohio/EPA Train Derailment Site; Beaver County To Give Update Hear More From Residents; Case Referred To AG For Criminal Investigation  [PaEN - 2.21.23]

-- ​​Feb. 20: DEP Provides Update On Actions Monitoring Air, Water For Impacts From Ohio/PA Train Derailment  [PaEN]

-- Feb. 25: DEP Has Collected Water Samples From Nearly Every Private Well In PA Within One Mile Of Norfolk Southern Derailment Site; Results Expected Next Week  [PaEN]

[Posted: February 25, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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