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Chemical Fallout From East Palestine Train Derailment May Have Reached as Far North as Canada

Published: February 20, 2023
Petroleum based chemicals float on the top of the water in Leslie Run creek after being agitated from the sediment on the bottom of the creek on February 20, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio following a train derailment prompting health concerns. On February 3rd, a Norfolk Southern Railways train carrying toxic chemicals derailed causing an environmental disaster. Thousands of residents were ordered to evacuate after the area was placed under a state of emergency and temporary evacuation orders.(Image: Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

Disturbing videos of rainbow colored sludge, emerging online from at least two Canadian provinces, have many online speculating that the fallout from the East Palestine train derailment, and the subsequent “controlled burn,” may have reached as far north as Canada. 

On Feb. 18, Marie Oakes, a Twitter user with over 67,000 followers tweeted a video captioned “This is Ontario Canada” showing melting snow with a familiar rainbow hue to it. The sight is similar to what residents of East Palestine are finding in their local streams following the derailment on Feb. 3.

Collin Rugg, a twitter user with over 255,000 followers, tweeted the video as well saying, “Ontario, Canada residents are reporting chemical contamination of their snow, likely from the East Palestine disaster.”

Also on Feb. 18, Oakes tweeted another video, purportedly from Cornwall, Ontario of someone scraping ice off their vehicle, again with the familiar rainbow hue.

In yet another video, a Montreal, Quebec resident is claiming the fallout has reached as far northeast as Montreal, saying that “High levels of toxic phosgene found in Montreal snow from Ohio fallout.”

Reports of contaminated precipitation from many Ontario and southern Quebec regions are emerging. 

Online sleuths are claiming that “air dispersal models,” indicate that the fallout from the train derailment could very well have reached as far north as Canada.  

“Air dispersal models have the train fallout traveling across the border, and in Ontario, people and pets are experiencing health impacts, and finding evidence on cars and in snow and even out in the middle of Lake Erie,” tweeted one user. 

None of these claims have been confirmed and, to date, no testing or plans to test in Canada have been announced. 

Scope of contamination remains unclear

In East Palestine, authorities are still trying to determine just how bad things are. However, several media outlets have appeared to downplay the destruction.

On Feb. 18, Vox reported that the disaster “is not an environmental disaster on the scale of Chernobyl [which irradiated a large part of Ukraine], the BP oil spill, or the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan,” adding that “There doesn’t seem to be much immediate danger,” before conceding that the specific risks associated with the disaster remain unknown.

A Feb. 15 report by News Nation indicated that the approximately 5,000 residents of East Palestine will be waiting months, maybe years, to determine just how contaminated their immediate environment is. 

“Experts say concerned locals may be waiting months, if not years, for answers to their questions about health and safety following the train derailment and toxic chemical release,” the outfit reported. 

David Masur, executive director of Pennsylvania nonprofit Penn Environment, told News Nation that it’s still too early to say what the actual consequences of the disaster will be. 

“It’s a little too early to tell, partially because the public has been given such limited information about what was on the train. And sadly, we’re going to find out for our environment and health one way or the other,” he said.

“These are very toxic and potent chemicals that were released, and in some cases then burned, and could affect the local communities’ health and environment for a long time,” Masur said, adding that, “We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of gallons of different types of chemicals from top to bottom. It’s like the tip of the toxic iceberg.”

On Feb. 12, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that it had not recorded elevated levels of toxins around the derailment, however residents may still smell odors.

Residents of East Palestine remain skeptical 

One resident told News Nation, “First, they were saying that the air was still breathable, the water wasn’t toxic, but miles away they are talking about cattle, animals being sick, fish dying in rivers and creeks all around here, “ while another resident said, “I don’t know what to believe.”

Trent Conaway, Mayor of East Palestine, is not stepping down from a potential fight, saying, “This is not going to get swept under the rug. I am not going to be some country bumpkin that gets talked over by a big corporation. We’re going to hold their feet to the fire. They are going to do what they said they were going to do, and they are going to protect the people of this town.”