Tens of thousands of residents affected by the toxic train derailment in East Palestine will be offered free health checks amid fears of a looming public health crisis.
They will have their vital signs taken and be medically examined by a doctor to check for acute health problems. Mental health specialists and a toxicologist will also be available for consultation.
The new clinic was opened by Ohio‘s Department of Health (ODH) in a church in East Palestine after trains carrying chemicals derailed in a crash three weeks ago and let off an explosion of toxic plumes.
Biden’s transport secretary has come under fierce criticism for not visiting the site of the crash 19 days after the incident occurred. Donald Trump became the first high-profile politician to visit today, where he delivered supplies and spoke to locals.
The chemicals on the board the train were vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, benzene residue, glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene
Tens of thousands of residents affected by the toxic train derailment in East Palestine will be offered free health checks amid fears of a looming public health crisis
The clinic, which only opened yesterday, is fully booked until Friday. It was initially only open to residents of East Palestine.
But the local health department announced today that it is expanding its free check to around 22,000 people living in Unity Township in Ohio, and neighboring Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Residents have been reporting a wave of sickness despite environmental officials ruling there were no health hazards detected in the town’s water or air. Some reported burning eyes, loose stool and headaches since the crash.
A poison-control hotline has also been introduced for East Palestine residents only, which can be accessed on 1-877-603-0170.
Physicians from East Liverpool City Hospital have been drafted in to help the clinic, located inside the First Church of Christ, 20 W. Martin St in East Palestine.
Two assessment rooms inside the church have been set up, along with a mobile unit outside.
Initially meant for East Palestine residents with medical questions or concerns, the clinic expanded its reach shortly after opening but prioritized those closest to the disaster.
The wider area includes all residents of Unity Township in Ohio, as well as residents of Beaver County, Pennsylvania in zip codes 16115, 16120 and 16141.
Appointments can be made by calling 234-564-7755 or 234-564-7888.
All those who attend will have their temperature, pulse rate and breathing rate taken, as well as a medical examination. Referrals will be made as necessary.
ODH director Dr Bruce Vanderhoff said: ‘We have been working to bring additional medical resources to the community as quickly as possible.
‘I am pleased we now can offer people a more complete medical evaluation.’
The clinic will be open at least through March 4. Hours are 8am to 8pm Monday through Saturday, except for this Friday (Feb. 24) when it is open 8am to 4pm.
Fifty Norfolk Southern Railroad freight train cars carrying toxic vinyl chloride derailed in Columbiana County at around 9pm on Friday, February 3.
A controlled release of the cancer-causing chemicals was done by the railroad company on Monday February 6 to avert a possible explosion.
Hundreds of East Palestine residents were evacuated from their homes prior to the release but were told on February 8 it was safe for them to return. Many are doubtful it is given their symptoms.
It later emerged that three other dangerous chemicals — ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene — were also in the rail cars.
The substances released during the incident can cause symptoms including nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.
Raven Ramsey, who lives in Niles, Ohio, roughly 27 miles from East Palestine, said on Facebook: ‘All three of my kids have had coughs, watery puffy eyes, nausea and headaches.’
She added: ‘I’m concerned and don’t know where to go or start.’
Six toxic chemicals were on board the trains that derailed, two of which are known to cause cancer, and can cause irritation to the nose and eyes, and headaches when inhaled.
Melissa Ryan, a mum of two living six miles away from the derailment, said there was a ‘giant black cloud’ directly over her house.
‘We were away the weekend of the derailment but when I came back that Sunday my eyes started burning and have been doing so since. I have a cough, both my kids have a cough.
‘They are going to the pediatrician so they can listen to their lungs. I’m exhausted.’
She added: ‘Since we are outside the one mile there is absolutely no assistance for us.’
Another resident said: ‘We live about 10 miles out, household experiencing severe headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath.’
East Palestine resident Candice DeSanzo evacuated the area along with her five sons after the derailment but returned when federal authorities lifted the evacuation order.
‘We all have red rashes, loose stool, congestion, eyes burning. Everything smells. I’ve been having terrible headaches,’ she told an Ideastream reporter at a community meeting held last night.
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