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Testing Updates

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

Updated: May 22, 2024

Daily Air Testing

How does it work?

Tracking Air Quality Every Day

The real-time air quality data is separated into two maps to show readings collected in the community as well as those in designated work areas. Work areas have limited access to the public, and these data are collected during specific operations related to the incident.

Green dots mean no detections.

Blue dots mean low level detections, and are largely limited to the work area. Those levels are what toxicologists call ‘normal background concentrations,’ which means they’re levels you’d typically find in the air. There are no health risks associated with these levels.

Yellow dots indicate moderate level detections, and are largely limited to the immediate work area as site cleanup continues. These levels are common during excavation and cleanup processes. Individuals on site are taking the appropriate precautions to ensure their safety. There has been no indication that isolated and brief detections beyond the immediate work area are related to site operations.

Air monitoring will continue as data shows the air in East Palestine is safe.

Use the arrows above to view older Monitoring Maps.

Soil Sampling

How does it work?

Surface Soil Investigation Areas

What does the map mean?

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

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

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.

Water Sampling

How does it work?

Surface Water Investigation Areas

What does the map mean?

The light blue “W” icons represent surface water sampling locations. Sampling locations include upstream of the incident site to the Ohio River. Contractors are collecting water samples daily, with over 4,100 samples since February 4, 2023. Two inset pictures are provided of sampling locations at the incident site and along Leslie Run flowing south out of East Palestine.