ODNR: Over 43,000 aquatic creatures killed in East Palestine following derailment

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As the investigation continues to unfold in East Palestine following a train derailment on Feb. 3, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has announced the total number of aquatic creatures killed to be more than 43,000.

The ODNR reports the toxic chemicals entered more than five miles of waterways in and around East Palestine following the Norfolk Southern train derailment.

Although the number of aquatic creatures who died are high, ODNR officials say most of that number is made up of small minnows, ranging in size from 1-3 inches.

Of the estimated number of aquatic creatures killed, 38,222 were minnows, ranging in size between 1 and 3 inches. Another 5,500 aquatic life died as a result of the derailment including small fish, crayfish, amphibians, and macroinvertebrates.

The impacted area runs from the train derailment site near Sulphur Run to where Bull Creek flows into the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek.

Although dead aquatic species still remain in the impacted waterways, the entirety of the impact to the aquatic life is believed to have occurred in the first 24-hours after the derailment, according to ODNR. There is no immediate threat to minnows, fish, or other aquatic species. They noted that live fish have returned to the area.

“Dead fish were collected in the four designated survey spots by entering the water and using a net,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Following collection, EnviroScience counted, identified, measured, and arranged disposal of the aquatic species to limit impact to other wildlife that might feed on affected aquatic species.”

She noted additional work has begun to remove dead fish from the water.

“ODNR continues to believe that none of the species killed in this event are in the threatened or endangered category,” Mertz noted.

The director commented that they are awaiting test results of some non-aquatic animals including three birds and an opossum.

“We do not believe any of these animals were made sick by the train derailment, but we have submitted those specimens to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and will wait for those test results before making that judgement,” Mertz said.