Ohio pastor among those affected by chemical spill

 By Scott Barkley - Posted at Baptist Press:

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (BP) — Joe Sheely may be a trusting pastor, but even his faith in state and federal officials is being tested. In the wake of a train derailment in his small Ohio town, people are scrambling for clean water. Suitable answers are even harder to find.

On Feb. 3, a freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed near East Palestine. Norfolk Southern Railway released a statement Feb. 5 that a “controlled breach” would take place due to damaged pressure relief devices on some cars. That process occurred the next day, releasing a large fire that lasted for hours and produced a large, black plume that developed into a cloud settling over the area.

Deadly chemicals released in the air

Those chemicals released were deemed carcinogenic to people. Vinyl chloride, one of them, has been linked to central nervous system effects in acute doses. Chronic exposure has been shown to cause liver damage, including a rare form of liver cancer. Upon burning, it decomposes into hydrogen chloride and phosgene. The latter was used extensively in World War I as a choking agent.

Ohio and Pennsylvania’s governors, alongside other officials, announced on Feb. 8 that residents could safely return home. However, Sheely and others can’t help but notice the smell of chlorine in the air, the black soot in their homes, the nagging headaches and the abundance of dead wildlife.

“There are around 30,000 dead fish they’ve discovered … in a local stream,” Sheely told Baptist Press. “Animals are dying all over the place. One lady lost all her chickens overnight.”

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