East Palestine Derailment Killed Almost 45K Fish, Animals

Only aquatic species were affected, state agency says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 9:21 AM CST
East Palestine Derailment Killed Almost 45K Fish, Animals
A large plume of smoke rises over East Palestine, Ohio, after a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk Southern train Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says no land animals died in the Feb. 3 derailment of a train carrying toxic chemical in East Palestine—but it was a different story in the local waterways, where almost 45,000 fish and animals died. Officials said Thursday that an estimated 38,222 minnows died, along with 5,550 other fish and animals, including amphibians and crayfish, USA Today reports. Mary Mertz, the agency's director, said all the fish died immediately after the accident and no threatened or endangered species were harmed. She said the area is being monitored and live fish have returned to the waterways.

Mertz said all the deaths happened in a five-mile radius of the derailment, the BBC reports. "Because the chemicals were contained, we haven't seen any additional signs of aquatic life suffering," she said. There have been anecdotal reports of animals in the area dying—some of them up to 20 miles from the crash site—but Mertz said investigators found no evidence that anything other than aquatic species died as a result of the derailment. She said tests on three dead birds and an opossum showed no evidence of chemical poisoning.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine on Thursday—a day after former President Trump went to the site—and acknowledged that he could have spoken out about the incident "sooner," Politico reports. He said "any national political figure who has decided to get involved in the plight of East Palestine" could help by supporting the reversal of Trump-era deregulation. (More East Palestine stories.)

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