A controlled release and burn of Vinyl Chloride from a train derailment site in East Palestine, OH on February 4th, 2023, had no impact on air quality in the New York region, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The DEC, along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the NYS Department of Health, have been monitoring air quality in the area, and no human health impacts have been reported.
In a statement, the DEC assured the public that they take impacts on state air quality seriously, even those occurring outside of New York State, but said that no impact on human health has been detected. The agency is continuing to monitor DEC ambient air monitoring stations across the state to ensure there are no issues.
The controlled release and burn occurred two days after the accident on February 6, 2023, from approximately 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST, and the burn was monitored by the U.S. EPA. The evacuation area was a space one mile by two miles wide and included parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The areas evacuated were where the concentration of chemicals during the release would be deadly if inhaled, and severe injury and lung damage were possible in the orange areas. Outside of these areas, it was deemed safe for people to remain.
The incident occurred 90 miles south of the New York-Pennsylvania border, and Rochester is a further 75 miles north of the border, placing it nearly 165 miles north of the incident, the associated burns, and evacuation areas where the risk to human life was greatest.
The NYS DEC and Department of Health provided statements and resources to answer any questions regarding health-related concerns as a result of the derailment. The incident has raised concerns about the lasting impacts of train derailments on communities and the environment.
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