Greenhouse in Lawrence County feeling impact of train derailment, chemical release

Schweikert’s Greenhouse in Enon Valley, Lawrence County has been a family-owned and operated greenhouse for more than 35 years.

“I’ve been doing this since I was little,” said Michelle Hudak, the owner of Schweikert’s Greenhouse.

They have rows and rows of flowers, potted plants, and veggies.

“Tomato, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage,” said Hudak. “You name it, we’ve got it.”

But business has taken a huge hit since the train derailment in February because the greenhouse is located about five miles away from East Palestine.

“There was a huge smoke bloom just over us and you could taste the fumes in the air,” said Hudak.

In the past few months, Hudak said they’ve lost thousands of dollars.

And normally the greenhouse is packed right before Mother’s Day, but customers have been concerned the plants are contaminated.

“But the soil that we use is brought in and is bagged so it wasn’t contaminated from the smoke from the derailment,” said Hudak.

Nearby beef, dairy, and crop farmers have been impacted too.

The Beaver Lawrence Farm Bureau president said they had the EPA and DEP take soil samples at 15 locations throughout the area to make sure it’s safe.

“The testing showed there was no contamination,” said Clifford Wallace, the president of the Beaver Lawrence Farm Bureau. “Therefore, as growers, the most important thing is our soil, so our soil is clean.”

Cliff Wallace said some businesses are bouncing back but he hopes that continues.

“People shouldn’t be afraid just come up and support Michelle and the other small businesses around,” said customer Gayle Orrico.

Wallace said soil water and plant samples will continue to ensure safety.

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