1677320432 Ohio derailment Panic in Canada Ottawa denounces the rumors

Ohio derailment: Panic in Canada, Ottawa denounces the rumors

They found phosgene, a toxic product, in the snow that fell in Montreal.

The East Palestine Cloud is coming to Quebec, writes another. Apparently it goes all the way back.

Here’s what the media doesn’t tell you about the Ohio train derailment.

The train at the center of the accident was carrying several toxic substances, including vinyl chloride. On February 6, American authorities proceeded with a release and then a controlled fire of these substances to avoid an explosion that produced a plume of black smoke visible for miles.

On Friday afternoon, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) tried to debunk these rumors on his Twitter account (New window) officially.

“We regret that certain social media messages have raised concerns among Canadians about the environmental and health impacts that the Feb. 3 Ohio train derailment in the United States may have,” the department said.

Working with Health Canada, we carefully examined data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the location of the incident, the chemicals involved, their reaction in the atmosphere, the prevailing winds, and the duration of the rejection. The Canadian government has determined that there is no expected risk to the environment or the health of the people of Canada, a series of tweets said.

On the Quebec side, the Department of Environment, Climate Change Mitigation, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) said it had analyzed particulate matter concentrations throughout its territory since the date of the accident.

Emissions from the fire caused by the train derailment do not appear to have affected Quebec’s air quality, likely because the smoke plume was highly diluted before reaching the province, official spokesman Frédéric Fournier told us.

The ministry is less certain about the toxins released in the derailment, including phosgene and vinyl chloride. When it claims it hasn’t detected any phosgene in Quebec’s air, the MELCCFP says it should monitor for the presence of vinyl chloride at certain stations on province territory — but can’t disclose the results of its tests.

As these are samples analyzed in the laboratory, the results are only available a few months after sampling. We therefore cannot know at the moment whether the events in Ohio could have had an impact on the concentrations of these pollutants measured in Quebec, replied Mr. Fournier.

dr Parisa Ariya, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry, welcomes the fact that the government is trying to calm the population.

“I think we have enough environmental issues in Canada to worry about,” she said. I do not think so [ce déraillement] is a big problem for us. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a big problem for the people of Ohio.

She still thinks that it will be necessary to keep an eye on the situation. We don’t know yet, because with environmental disasters like this, we can’t know the results immediately. It takes time, she explains.

Concerns on social networks

Over a week ago, Radio-Canada began receiving questions from netizens who had seen disturbing publications and wanted to know the truth. So we asked ECCC for answers.

As southern Ontario lies directly north and northwest of the deposit and the prevailing winds are from the west and southwest, it is highly unlikely that the area was affected, we responded on February 17th.

We then pointed out that according to the rumors in question, the pollution plume would have affected not only southern Ontario but also Quebec. We asked if the ECCC’s answer also applies to Quebec and if the wind analysis is for February 6, the day of publication.

The ECCC said it had to consult experts to get an answer. We have been asked to wait until next week.

On Tuesday morning, ECCC sent us the same response as February 17, with one detail: the phrase that mentioned Southern Ontario was unlikely to be affected was no longer there. So we asked ECCC for clarification again and they told us to wait until the next day, Wednesday. The ministry finally denied the rumors on its Twitter account on Friday.

What about these posts?

A map of the northeastern United States and southern Quebec and Ontario.  We see a huge black cloud.

Screenshot of the circulation map

Photo: Screenshot – Twitter

Several publications included a map purporting to show the pollution released at the time of this event. In this map we see a huge black cloud emanating from eastern Palestine and covering much of the northeastern United States, even extending to eastern Ontario and southern Quebec.

This is a real map created by the US Oceanic and Atmospheric Observation Agency (NOAA). However, the interpretation of these netizens is completely wrong, confirms the organization’s spokeswoman, Monica Allen.

The latter explains that it is a model of the air currents on the evening of February 7, which is used, among other things, to make public health decisions. But, she says, the map doesn’t tell the whole story.

The map is useful for understanding air movement in the atmosphere, but does not show pollution levels at ground level where people live and breathe. The concentration of pollutants decreases drastically as you move away [du site de l’accident]but this is not reflected in the graph, she adds.

In addition, the fire deliberately caused by the American authorities lasted only a few hours. According to local media (New Window), the fire started around 3:30 p.m. local time on February 6. At 8 p.m. that evening, CNN reported that only a small fire was raging at the scene.

At the time of the fire, local weather stations reported spotting the column of smoke rising from eastern Palestine on their radar screens.

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We were able to use historical data from US weather radars to visualize the extent of the headline-grabbing cloud and confirm some information published by US media.

At approximately 3:46 p.m., these radars detected a very dense cloud on the eastern border of the East Palestine Municipality where the derailment occurred. The plume grows and then completely disappears from radar around 6:47 p.m., which coincides with the time period of the media-reported fire.

The map is described below.Enlarge picture (New window)

Animated map showing the plume of smoke on atmospheric radar screens

Photo: Screenshot/Weather.us

On this radar map we see East Palestine on the bottom left. The plume of smoke is shown in blue, green and yellow. The radar recordings were made on February 6, 2022 between 15:39 and 18:47 at an interval of approximately seven minutes.

Ontario is about 200 km to the north and Montreal is more than 760 km to the north-east. The thick cloud never traveled further than the village of Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, 4 miles from the derailment site.

A video on TikTok claimed that phosgene released when vinyl chloride was burned could have ended up in snow in Montreal. dr Ariya, one of his snow experts, thinks this is a negligible possibility. She explains that since phosgene is a gas, it cannot serve as a nucleus for the formation of precipitation such as snow.

The situation in East Palestine remains serious. The evacuated residents have been able to return to their homes, but some say they are suffering from a range of symptoms, including headaches and coughs. Dead fish were found in the area.

In addition, officials from the rail company at the center of the accident, Norfolk Southern, refused to meet with concerned citizens last Wednesday. When the authorities assure that the levels of pollution in the air and rivers are safe, many residents of East Palestine remain skeptical.

The causes of the accident are not yet known. Unions representing train operators in the United States have said for years (New Window) that some trains have too many cars and too few people on board, and that this can pose a risk of derailment.

With information from Thomas Gerbet

decryptor.  Marie Pier Elie, Jeff Yates, Nicholas De Rosa and Alexis De Lancer.