DEP says one year after East Palestine train derailment there are no signs of soil contamination in Pennsylvania

19 February 2024- Analysis of a year of sampling conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and its independent contractor found no evidence of water or soil contamination related to the derailment in Pennsylvania’s private water wells, surface water, and soil. The contractor also evaluated and verified sampling data, compared data to Pennsylvania’s environmental standards, and made recommendations for additional sampling.

DEP’s contractor also conducted, and continues to conduct, split sampling at three sentinel monitoring wells installed in Pennsylvania by Norfolk Southern near the train derailment location. These wells were installed between the derailment site and private properties in Pennsylvania and are used for early detection of groundwater contamination that could have migrated from the derailment site. Groundwater in this area has not been impacted by contamination from the derailment. Additionally, the monitoring well data evaluated by DEP indicates that groundwater around the monitoring wells on the Pennsylvania border is flowing towards Ohio and away from Pennsylvania residents in the area.

The full interim summary report can be found on DEP’s webpage on the derailment along with an interactive mapping tool of sampling conducted to date. DEP’s independent contractor is in the process of conducting the fourth round of private well sampling and has completed all soil and surface water sampling. To date, samples have been taken at 85 individual private potable water sources, 97 surface soil locations, and 18 surface water locations within the Commonwealth, totaling hundreds of samples.

“DEP’s response to the Norfolk Southern train derailment started just over a year ago, and we continue to be on the ground in Beaver and Lawrence counties supporting local communities,” said DEP Interim Acting Secretary Jessica Shirley. “DEP will continue to work with local partners and its independent contractor to uphold Pennsylvanians’ right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of natural resources. Under the leadership of the Shapiro Administration, DEP will remain committed to addressing residents’ concerns, following the science, and taking action when warranted.”

Marking the one-year anniversary of the derailment, Governor Josh Shapiro outlined Pennsylvania’s response, including efforts he directed state agencies – including the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), State Police (PSP), Department of Agriculture (PDA), Department of Health (DOH), and DEP – to take immediately following the derailment and since. The Shapiro Administration is committed to serving Pennsylvanians impacted by the derailment, and will continue to work with local, state, and federal partners.