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Plant tissue samples show no contamination from East Palestine train derailment

A map of the plant tissue sampling locations in relation to the derailment site. The map also shows how many samples were taken from each area.
Ohio Department of Agriculture
The Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio State University collected and tested plant tissue samples from 16 agricultural areas in Columbiana County.

Results from plant tissue sampling done in East Palestine show no contamination from the train derailment more than three months ago.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) in conjunction with Ohio State University tested plant tissue samples from 16 agricultural areas in Columbiana County. The results show the plant materials are not contaminated with semi volatile organic compounds associated with the Norfolk Southern train derailment. The samples were collected by ODA plant health inspectors last month. Sampled plants include winter wheat, pasture grasses, malting barley and forage covers and were taken within a five mile radius of the derailment site. Sites particularly impacted by the plume of smoke caused by the vent and burn of vinyl chloride the derailed train was carrying were given special consideration. When available, plant health inspectors consulted with the landowner to identify areas most likely to have been impacted by the derailment.

According to a statement from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office, plant tissue collected closer to the derailment site was considered the most likely to be contaminated, while plant tissue samples collected further away were used as a baseline comparison. Analysis by Ohio State shows no reportable levels of semi volatile organic compounds in any of the samples.

ODA Director Brian Baldridge and Ohio State staff met with the landowners Tuesday to review the results.

The procedure of sampling and testing were created by ODA and Ohio State in response to concerns from the agricultural community about the impact of the train derailment to see the full impact on agricultural products.

The samples were analyzed for the same 26 semi volatile organic compounds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been examining in soil samples. EPA analysis has shown little contamination from the derailment.

Remediation work continues in East Palestine. According to the Ohio EPA, approximately 17.3 million gallons of wastewater have been removed from East Palestine. Approximately, 28,400 tons of evacuated soil are awaiting removal. 41,900 tons have already been removed.

Drinking water testing of the East Palestine municipal water system continues to show no indication of contaminants related to the derailment, DeWine's office said in a statement. Well sampling also shows no indication of chemicals from the derailment.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.