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Ohio Department of Health clinic opening Tuesday in East Palestine for concerned residents

Ohio Senators ask EPA for continuous monitoring of potentially harmful chemicals
East Palestine train derailment
Posted at 10:09 PM, Feb 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-19 23:18:47-05

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Health, in partnership with the Columbiana County Health Department, is opening a clinic for East Palestine residents starting this week. This as people who live there continue to tell News 5 about their health concerns and lack of trust in the water quality.

Donna Mineard lives three blocks from the train derailment and said she and her mother are sick.

“I have a headache, I have stomach pain, I threw up, and I have diarrhea,” said Mineard.

Her 82-year-old mother is now receiving medical care at a facility nearby in Beaver.

“I just worry about her,” said Mineard. “She just wants to give up and that’s not an option.”

Sunday, Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and J.D Vance sent a letter to the EPA asking for continuous monitoring of dioxins. Dioxins can form from vinyl chloride, and harm humans and animals, the letter stated. Vinyl chloride is the toxic chemical railroad operator Norfolk Southern control burned into the atmosphere nearly two weeks ago. It's a decision Norfolk Southern CEO, Alan Shaw, stands behind.

“I think we did what we needed to do in order to prevent an uncontrolled explosion in the evening," said Shaw.

Russell Murphy lives two miles from the train derailment and Leslie Run.

The Ohio EPA found contaminated runoff in Leslie Run and now recommends private well owners get their water tested. Murphy’s well water was tested Sunday by Columbiana County General Health and another agency hired by Norfolk Southern.

“The smell to me smells like burning plastic, with almost a fingernail polish smell,” Murphy added. “I smelled that smell like crazy, and then of course that heat came across me, my heart sank. I picked up the canister that holds the spin yarn filter we use to take out sediment in the water and I picked it up and I smelled it and there it was.”

Murphy doesn't have results back yet but is concerned.

“Kevin from the Health Department smelled that smell and said, 'Yes, I smell something,'” said Murphy. “The AECOM employee, he said he could not comment whether he smelled it or doesn't. As far as us, me and my wife and my daughter, we’ve been using bottled water for drinking, but we were showering and bathing. After today, I don’t know what we are going to do.”

The Ohio Department of Health is opening an East Palestine clinic Tuesday for anxious residents to receive health checks. ODH said a toxicologist will either be on-site or available by phone, but Mineard just wants her family to get out of town.

“I am trying to move but I can’t find a place that I can afford,” Mineard said.

The health clinic opening Tuesday will be at First Church of Christ, located at 20 West Martin Street in East Palestine. There will also be a mobile unit parked outside the church to help with appointments.

ODH is asking residents to call 234-564-7755 or 234-564-7888 Monday at 8 a.m. to make an appointment. The clinic starts Tuesday and runs through Saturday.

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