Two new issues have come up in the ongoing clean-up of the toxic chemicals spilled in the East Palestine, OH train derailment: melted protective coverings on pressure relief valves and clean-up workers getting sick.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is urging all freight rail companies to examine the protective coverings placed over a tank car’s pressure relief valves, according to CNN. In the East Palestine incident, the aluminum coverings on the relief valves melted in the fire caused by the derailment.
There have also been instances of Norfolk Southern workers who have been tasked with cleaning up the derailment getting sick from the toxic chemicals in the area. CNN states that these same workers claimed the company hasn’t provided them with proper PPE.
Rail companies asked to consider using steel valve covers
The PHMSA issued an advisory March 2 urging major freight rail companies “to take immediate safety measures to look at the performance of the protective coverings over the pressure relief valves.”
This advisory isn’t a mandate, but something the agency feels should be done following discoveries investigators have made onsite at the derailment in East Palestine.
Investigators found that several of the tank cars involved in the incident had aluminum coverings that were meant to protect the valves. Those coverings melted in the fire caused by the derailment, the PHMSA found.
The PHMSA advisory “requests all rail companies review their fleets to determine if they have aluminum protective coverings and consider actions including replacing these covers with steel that can withstand greater exposure to heat and fire.”
Clean-up workers complaining of migraines, nausea
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Railroad Administration head Amit Bose met with railroad union leaders regarding safety on March 1.
The meeting follows a letter the unions issued to Buttigieg and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine criticizing Norfolk Southern for putting workers at risk and not providing clean-up workers in East Palestine, who are exposed to toxic chemicals, with proper PPE.
Clean-up employees “reported that they continue to experience migraines and nausea, days after the derailment, and they all suspect that they were willingly exposed to these chemicals at the direction of Norfolk Southern,” according to the letter.