Agricultural Plants in East Palestine Area Safe, Testing Finds

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – Plant materials from agricultural sites around East Palestine are not contaminated with semivolatile organic compounds associated with the Feb. 3 train derailment, according to state testing.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s office on Tuesday released the results of plant tissue samples taken on Ohio farms within a 1- to 3-mile area, which was considered the inner radius, and a 3- to 5-mile radius, which was considered background radius. The samples were analyzed by the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in partnership with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Samples were taken from 16 sites from April 10-12 and included testing of winter wheat, pasture grasses, malting barley, alfalfa, hay fields and grassed waterways. Only one chemical, benzo [b] fluoranthene, came back with a background radius range number above expected numbers, and it was noted those were not believed to be associated with the train derailment.

Area farmers had been concerned about the possibility of their winter crops or pastures for their animals being contaminated following the derailment and subsequent release of vinyl chloride during a controlled, release burn Feb. 6. The resulting plume has led many to question what was released into the air and what the effects will be to the local area.

DeWine’s office noted the results of the plant material testing was consistent with the Ohio and U.S. EPA monitoring of air, water and soil in the East Palestine area that has been ongoing since the derailment. Municipal water tests and the tests of the sentinel wells prior to the municipal water wells show no contamination associated with the derailment at this time.

Brian Baldridge, ODA director, and the OSU staff met Tuesday with East Palestine landowners of the properties where plant materials were tested to go over the results.

Cleanup continues, and as of Tuesday afternoon, the Ohio EPA reported about 17.3 million gallons of liquid wastewater has been hauled out of East Palestine. There is currently about 28,400 tons of excavated soil awaiting removal, and another 41,900 tons has been removed.

Pictured at top: Plant samples are collected for testing. (Ohio Department of Agriculture)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.