All Eyes on the East Palestine Train Derailment

March 23, 2023

As we head into Q2 of 2023, the industry is enraptured by the East Palestine Train Derailment in Ohio.  

On February 3, a train with cars carrying hazardous substances derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, which resulted in a fire and concerns over air and water contamination. The train, part of Norfolk Southern Railway Company, was carrying hazardous materials, such as vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether. 

The derailment has led to water sampling throughout potentially impacted water ways, including Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, a portion of the North Fork of Beaver Creek, which eventually leads into the Ohio River. 

According to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, as of February 17, “there is no indication of risk to East Palestine Public Water customers. Treated drinking water shows no detection of contaminants associated with the derailment.” 

Related, water samples were taken of the Ohio River by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and as of February 18, the samples “indicate no butyl acrylate is being detected. In addition, no vinyl chloride has been detected in the Ohio River.” 

And, as far as surface water sampling goes, the Ohio EPA stated on its website that “water quality sampling taken Feb. 10 shows very low levels of two contaminants, butyl acrylate and ethyl hexyl acrylate, in Leslie Run which dissipates quickly, and no detects of butyl acrylate in North Fork Little Beaver Creek or Little Beaver Creek.” Additionally, a “much lower level” of ethyl hexyl acrylate was found in North Fork Little Beaver Creek but there was no indication of any ethyl hexyl acrylate there. Additionally, no vinyl chloride has been detected in any of the waterways.  

Sulphur Run continues to be impacted following the impoundment on February 8. At that time, the waterway was rerouted to isolate the area contaminated by the train derailment. Ohio EPA said “this ensures no additional contaminants would move downstream and allows contractors to focus on removing the contaminants from the section of Sulphur Run that was affected.” 

The derailment comes at an interesting time – a time when there is a call for updated infrastructure throughout the country. As we continue to watch the environmental impacts of the derailment, we, as an industry, will have our eyes on what this means for infrastructure – from railways to water and beyond.  

For more information on the train derailment, I encourage you to visit

About the Author

Katie Johns

Katie Johns, editor-in-chief of Storm Water Solutions and Water Quality Products, graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Johns joined the Storm Water Solutions team in September 2019. Johns also helps plan the annual StormCon conference and co-hosts the Talking Under Water podcast. Prior to entering the B2B industry, she worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Sarasota, Florida, and a magazine assistant editor in the Chicago suburbs. She can be reached at [email protected].