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Surface Soil

Norfolk Southern team members remain on scene, assisted by environmental contractors to investigate and sample surface soil in East Palestine.

Updated: April 14, 2023

Surface Soil Investigation Areas

What does the map mean?

The red and yellow dots on the map represent the nearly 300 areas where surface soil will be inspected. Teams will walk each area to look for materials potentially associated with the controlled vent and burn completed on February 6, 2023. Soil samples will be collected from locations where such material is observed, as well as other areas where no material is observed.

In addition, five soil samples will be collected from the immediate derailment area (blue dots), 10-15 samples will be collected in the area to the southeast of that area (purple dots), and at least 16 locations will be sampled to represent “background” conditions, which are areas not expected to be impacted by the derailment (green dots).

Status of the Soil Work
To date, the team has completed 358 investigations and collected 294 soil samples.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Soil Investigation and Sampling

What is the Phase I Preliminary Residential/Commercial/Agricultural Soil Sampling Work Plan?

The Phase I Preliminary Residential/Commercial/Agricultural Soil Sampling Work Plan is a U.S. EPA-approved inspection and testing plan. The plan is a preliminary step to evaluate whether shallow soil near the derailment site may have been affected by wind transport of ash from the derailment and subsequent controlled release.

Will my property be sampled?

Under the work plan, approximately 300 locations will be inspected, and samples will be collected from about 20% of those locations. Sampling under this plan is intended to inform planning for future work, and additional inspections and testing may be conducted if requested by U.S. EPA.

Do I need to sign an access agreement?

In this initial phase, most samples will be collected from the public right of way. If a sample is needed on private property, the property owner will be asked to provide access; however, he or she is not required to sign an access agreement and may refuse access. Sampling cannot be completed on a private property without a signed access agreement.

By signing an access agreement, am I giving up any rights to claims?

No. You are not waiving any legal rights you may have against Norfolk Southern by signing the access agreement.

If my property is sampled, will I get the sampling results?

Yes. Results for samples collected on private property will be shared with the property owner.

What will the soil samples be tested for?

The samples will be sent to a laboratory where they will be tested to determine if there are contaminants present that may be associated with the derailment or the controlled vent and burn. Specifically, the soil will be tested for a range of semi-volatile organic compounds (referred to as SVOCs), including oil-based products, dioxins, and furans.

How long does it take to get soil sample results?

Soil samples will be sent to a laboratory for analysis, and then laboratory data will go through a quality assurance and validation process. This process usually takes a few weeks.