(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health plans to open a health resource center in Beaver County for people who have health concerns after the recent train derailment in Ohio.
On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania state line. The derailment of the 50 cars caused a large fire and led to an evacuation order and the declaration of a state of emergency.
Some of the train cars had vinyl chloride, a hazardous chemical associated with increased risk of cancers. Other chemicals being transported in the train were ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene.
To prevent an explosion, emergency crews decided to take a controlled venting and burning approach. Now residents are concerned about lingering environmental impacts, and potential impacts to air and water.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Norfolk Southern to clean up all contamination associated with the train derailment.
The new health center is expected to open on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at the Darlington Township Building, 3590 Darlington Road in Darlington. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays through March 10.
Members of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will also be at the health center to help residents sign up for free, independent water testing and provide guidance on food and animal safety.
“Today, my administration is taking another step to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of every Pennsylvanian affected by the Norfolk Southern train derailment,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said in a news release. “Starting Tuesday, Pennsylvanians who are concerned about the impacts of the derailment on their health will have an additional resource to turn to, where they can talk to public health experts right in their own community from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Human Services, to receive treatment should they need it. From the beginning of our response to Norfolk Southern’s derailment, my administration has worked hand-in-hand with first responders and emergency management personnel, our partners in Ohio, and the federal government to ensure our citizens in Western Pennsylvania have the resources and information they need to be safe and healthy.”
Officials from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and federal agencies continue to monitor and water quality through the region. Monitoring has been ongoing since the incident and Pennsylvania has seen no concerning air or water quality readings, the announcement noted.