Ohio train derailment map: Where did toxic chemical spill happen in East Palestine?

A small town in eastern Ohio has been rocked by a train derailment that spilled a number of hazardous chemicals into the air and ground, forcing thousands of residents to evacuate and sparking fears of lasting ecological fallout.

East Palestine was thrown into chaos on the night of 3 February when a 150-car Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals and other materials suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure, hurtling the cars off the tracks.

More than a week later, information is still trickling out about what exactly happened and what risk the 5,000 residents of East Palestine — and the millions in the surrounding region — may face as a result of the crash.

East Palestine is situated in Columbiana County, right on the edge of Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania.

The railroad tracks where the derailment occurred run along the southern border of the village - shown on the map below:

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a preliminary investigation of the derailment found that a wheel bearing on one of the train cars’ wheels overheated and failed in the moments prior to the accident.

Of the 150 cars on the train, 38 derailed, including 10 of the 20 that were carrying hazardous materials.

Five of the cars on the train were carrying a chemical called vinyl chloride, a colourless, hazardous, and flammable gas used in the production of PVC plastic and vinyl products. Those cars were not breached, but officials feared that fires resulting from the crash could ignite the cars, causing a dangerous explosion.

Norfolk Southern officials conducted a controlled burn of the chemicals on 6 February, venting the gas into a trench and torching it, releasing a massive column of black smoke high into the air above East Palestine.

In the initial aftermath of the crash, authorities were most concerned about the presence of vinyl chloride.

The gas has been linked to an “increased risk of a rare form of liver cancer,” called hepatic angiosarcoma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

It is also linked to primary liver cancer, brain and lung cancers, leukaemia, and lymphoma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

By 8 February residents were told they could return to their homes following a mandatory evacuation. However, two days later the EPA sent a letter to Norfolk Southern detailing the other hazardous materials that were being carried on the train.

Those include butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and benzene residue.

Fears continue to mount that the presence of chemicals in the air, ground and water could be linked to a growing spate of animals dropping dead and people falling mysteriously ill.

East Palestine officials were slated to hold an “open house” regarding the situation on 15 February, after scrapping earlier plans to hold a town hall where residents could ask questions of officials.