Feb 24, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Over 43,000 aquatic animals estimated dead after Ohio train derailment

A fish lays dead following the Ohio train derailment. Photo: Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Nearly 44,000 aquatic animals were potentially killed as a result of the derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said Thursday.

Driving the news: The department estimates about 38,222 minnows were killed, along with an additional 5,500 species, including fish, amphibians, crayfish and others.

  • None of the aquatic species that died were believed to be endangered or threatened, per the ODNR.
  • Officials believe "the entirety of the impact to the aquatic life" happened within the first 24 hours after the derailment.
  • "There is no immediate threat to minnows, fish, or other aquatic species," the department said.

Flashback: Officials first collected samples of dead animals on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7 — just days after the Feb. 3 derailment, ODNR director Mary Merks said in a statement.

  • The ODNR estimated at the time that 3,500 aquatic species had died as a result of the derailment.

The big picture: The derailed train was carrying at least five cars with vinyl chloride, which is a hazardous and carcinogenic gas that is used to produce PVC plastic and vinyl products, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

  • The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) on Thursday released preliminary findings of an investigation into the derailment, which showed — among other things — that the crew of the Norfolk Southern train tried to stop it after they received a "critical" alert about an overheating wheel before the crash.

Go deeper: What we know about the Ohio train derailment

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