Contact: Jamar Thrasher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Darlington Township, PA – Today, the Shapiro Administration announced plans to maintain a long-term, physical presence in Darlington Township, Beaver County to continue assisting residents impacted by the Norfolk Southern train derailment that occurred on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.
Starting on Thursday, March 23, staff from the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Protection (DEP) and Health (DOH) will be onsite at the Darlington Township Building, 3590 Darlington Rd., Darlington, PA 16115 every Thursday from Noon to 5:00 PM to meet with residents. Additional staff will be available via video conferencing during that time, as well. In addition, state agencies are working with Township staff to ensure they can help residents access state resources related to the derailment.
Staff from Commonwealth agencies and Beaver County also plan to hold open house events Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 PM to offer one-on-one discussion to individuals who attend, as well as provide resources and information.
"Since it opened last month, the Center has been an invaluable community resource for residents in Western Pennsylvania, providing everything from clinical evaluations to behavioral health assistance, and even spiritual guidance," said Acting Health Secretary Dr. Debra Bogen. "It takes time and proven commitment to build trust, and the Shapiro Administration is pledging to do just that. Residents should be assured we are here to help in any way we can."
"Under the direction of Governor Shapiro, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has taken direct action to safeguard Pennsylvanians' soil and water," said Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection Rich Negrin. "The Department of Environmental Protection worked diligently to conduct independent water sampling throughout the affected area to closely monitor water contamination risks related to the East Palestine train derailment. DEP has been on the scene since the first hours after the derailment, and we will continue to stay in affected communities as long as it takes to assure Pennsylvanians' their air, water and soil are safe."
"Farmers depend on healthy soil and water to produce food that is safe for their families and customers," said Acting Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "As we wait for DEP and EPA experts to carefully review and validate results of water and soil testing, the Department of Agriculture has been present, listening to area farmers so that we can take the critical step of validating their concerns. The Health Resource Center has been a valuable tool in hearing, and responding to concerns of Pennsylvanians who depend on healthy soil and water for their lives and livelihoods."
Residents will continue to have access to expert staff and be able to ask questions about their health, pets, farm animals, and inquire about air, soil, and water quality testing. Resource materials will also be available for pickup, including on days when agency staff are not on site.
This extension of operations furthers the Administration's commitment to helping residents affected by the derailment and assist in their recovery.
Since Norfolk Southern's train derailed more than six weeks ago, the Shapiro Administration has been on the ground in Western Pennsylvania, assisting local residents and ensuring they have the information and resources they need to keep themselves, their families, and their property safe.
Governor Shapiro has visited the affected areas in Western Pennsylvania several times, meeting with local leaders and residents, and he has tasked his Administration with making all possible resources available to help local communities. PEMA Director Randy Padfield, DEP Acting Secretary Richard Negrin, DOH Acting Secretary Dr. Bogen, and PDA Acting Secretary Russell Redding have all visited the affected areas several times, as well.
See below for examples of how the Shapiro Administration is continuing to respond:
- DEP is Conducting Ongoing Independent Water and Soil Sampling: DEP has been conducting independent water and soil sampling to closely monitor water contamination risks within a two-mile radius of the East Palestine derailment. Concerned residents who are beyond the two-mile radius may reach out to DEP to request testing by calling 412-442-4000. The first round of water sampling results shows no signs of groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania. Read more here.
- DOH Health Resource Center: On February 28, the Shapiro Administration opened the Health Resource Center in Darlington Township, Beaver County for residents who had health concerns following the Norfolk Southern train derailment. As of March 16, staff at the Center had assisted more than 550 people. Read more here
- PEMA Dashboard: The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) has created an online dashboard with a timeline of details and listed resources for Pennsylvania residents to find on the PEMA website.
- The Department of Agriculture Launched Hotline: PDA launched a hotline for concerned farmers and producers. Pennsylvania farmers and producers who were impacted by the train derailment and have questions or concerns can contact the hotline at 855-777-6735.
- Holding Norfolk Southern Accountable: Governor Shapiro has continued to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for their actions following the train derailment. Following the incident, Gov. Shapiro sent Norfolk Southern a letter outlining concerns with their crisis management practices. The Governor secured an initial commitment of over $7 million from Norfolk Southern to pay for damages to Pennsylvania and its residents resulting from their train derailment. Read more here.
Department of Health staff are continuing to conduct the Assessment of Chemical Exposure (ACE) survey among residents and first responders living near the derailment. The surveys help residents identify symptoms, experiences, and concerns about the impact of the train derailment on their lives.