DEEP: Residue not connected to Ohio train derailment

Residue on cars after the rain
Published: Feb. 17, 2023 at 11:17 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 17, 2023 at 12:52 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Channel 3 received several photos and phone calls from viewers who questioned if a soot-like residue that accumulated on vehicles during recent rain was connected a train derailment in Ohio.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Weather Service. Both said they couldn’t comment and advised Channel 3 to contact the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Friday afternoon, DEEP told Channel 3 that it was not connected to the incident on Ohio.

Channel 3 Chief meteorologist Mark Dixon agreed and said that given how long ago the derailment happened, the residue was unlikely from there.

Dixon said it could be related to the dust storm in Texas and Oklahoma earlier this week.

“Texas and Oklahoma, that part of the country had an incredible dust storm, reducing visibility. The winds were over 70 mph leading to car accidents, multiple vehicles. It was a pretty horrific scene there,” Dixon said.

The meteorological thinking behind what’s happening in Connecticut is connected to that dust storm from earlier in the week.

“That dust gets propelled upward into the atmosphere and then carried by the jet stream through this storm system that’s been moving through yesterday into today. And then part of that gets rained down on us and that’s what we’re seeing on our vehicles,” said Dixon.

DEEP continues tracking air quality in the state. The agency said Friday’s air quality has been “good.”

Dixon cited Ryan Stauffer, a meteorologist from NASA.

“This storm kicked up and transported a huge amount of dust from Oklahoma earlier this week,” Stauffer posted to social media. “No cause for concern!”

Channel 3 Anchor Mark Zinni noticed the residue on his vehicle late Thursday night.

Earlier in the week, DEEP provided a statement that said it did not anticipate any air quality issues in the state from the derailment.

“Based on a three-day analysis of forward wind trajectories from the site of the derailment, DEEP is confident there was no impact to Connecticut from this event,” said Will Healey, director of communications for DEEP, on Monday.

Monday, DEEP did say that it continued to operate its statewide air monitoring network and had been tracking the results of the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing air monitoring efforts in and around East Palestine, OH, where the derailment happened.

A 50-car train derailed on Feb. 4 and prompted evacuations in the town of 5,000 people. A large release and combustion of vinyl chloride and other chemical compounds occurred.

The chemicals that were spilled or burned off in the area left a smell of fresh paint nearly two weeks afterward.

Vinyl chloride, used to make the polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin used in a variety of plastic products, is associated with increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute.

As recently as Thursday, however, the EPA sought to reassure residents in East Palestine that the water is fit for drinking and the air is safe the breathe.

Getting answers on residue found on cars
Reports of residue on cars
Similar experiences of residue have been reported in nearby states.