Ohio Train Derailment Projects?

I tried a few searches, but have come up empty. Are there any iNat projects documenting the watershed impacts and die-offs due to the Ohio train derailment? I’ve seen a lot of dramatic social media posts about the impact and lack of coverage, so my first thought was that it would be great for community science to add some data.


You could try setting up a project. There are not a lot of people in that part of Ohio to start with though, so not many iNat observations over there to start with.


The whole area is really rural. Its right on the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania too - I just can’t imagine there’s that many iNatters in the area. Maybe people checking out state game lands or state parks, since there’s a couple very close, might pick up some stuff (I know the Beaver Creek watershed is one of the ones that’s heavily effected.)

I don’t know. Its a very good idea but I’m skeptical if anything would gain much traction.

TBH if it wasn’t february I’d be tempted to drive over to Beaver Creek State Park and give it a look around, but I’m frankly too lazy to take that long of a drive during peak ohio mud season.


I think this is long overdue for discussion, however, expect the possibility of minimized response or flags in the conversation.

From my understanding, the entities responsible, companies like Koch industries, DOW, the like and their subsidiaries are heavily invested in environmental consulting firms, and a have vested interests in hundreds of research facilities across the world, and thus will likely continue to stagnate reporting, and stymie research and data recording outside of what their insurers will allow to be discovered, until the data and figures align with which they desire is acquired.

This is the permanent destruction of likely multiple watersheds and unfortunately, protectors of truth, like, The Guardian are just a little too busy announcing pointless nonsense like, Nikki Haley’s potential presidential candidacy run.


I’ve definitely seen some people on reddit talking about how they’ve been seeing dead fish, their farm animals are dying, they’ve seen evidence of acid rain after the incident… etc etc. I’m sure there’s lawyers starting class action suits, whether or not these expediently see the light of day or if they get dragged on for decades is something we’ll have to wait and see.

But this is a horrific disaster. It is going to be a superfund site. Organizations keep commenting on how the air quality is fine, now, we promise, but I desperately want to see the soil and water test.


Here’s just one article talking about fish deaths and some of the rivers affected. Oh whoops also apparently those streams have been reintroduction sites for hellbender salamanders, so there’s one vulnerable species whose conservation efforts are going to be negatively impacted.

I’m so salty about this all. Our ass of a governor made like, one statement about the situation right after it happened and its been radio silence since then. Its all incredibly frustrating.


It’s a great idea. If your scope is broad enough, you might get people to contribute. It’s on the border of western PA–50 some miles outside of Pittsburgh, and I know there are regular contributors from that area. Whether western PA is too far away for potential impact, I don’t know. Also, I’m from a very rural area of PA (too far north and east for this), but people contribute from there even though there are more cows than people up that way. So maybe? I’ve been wondering about the environmental impact myself. I feel bad for the people, animals, and plants–what an avoidable catastrophe.


It shows how little coverage there is that I actually hadn’t heard about the derailment until I saw this discussion…and a reporter was actually arrested for trying to cover the incident.


This could, had and will continue to happen anywhere. Your current governor is far from the first corporate puppet to allow, permit and protect polluters and destroyers of the environment to operate in the region…


I think the Cuyahoga “River” has been brought up here a few times… dios mio

You are welcome to safely and discretely collect soil samples and specimens from public lands, within the respect to the established laws surround this, but please be sure you need to have proper protection from whatever potentially hazardous substances and reactions these chemicals are having with the environment and the substrate around it. and also properly decontaminate yourself after collecting any such materials or exposing yourself to hazardous chemicals.

I recommend you use extreme caution and discretion. There dangerous and potential deadly poisonous chemicals and the folks responsible for this incident have litigation power that is unparalleled.

I can’t promise you wont be extensively harassed by private security, uniformed municipal police officers, as well as railroad commission staff if they are present.

its not it small area covered, I’m sure there is somewhere safe you and other researchers can collect samples, just be careful.

Frustration doesn’t really begin to describe my feelings relating to this matter, personally.


The Cuyahoga, at least, has made tons of improvements over the years. If you want to see some big success stories, look up recent years and how much improvement the river has seen after efforts to remove all the defunct dams blocking the river flow - the only one remaining now is the huge old gorge dam that was built over Cuyahoga Falls, and its removal is currently in the works. Once its done it’ll be an unimpeded shot from the headwaters to lake Erie, which is a freaking win in my book.

Its not perfect, but its a hell of a lot better than it used to be. (no thanks to the corporate puppets, of course.)

Honestly, I really doubt I’ll do any soil sampling. At most, I’d take pictures if I see anything obvious - but regardless, the whole area is a bit of a hike for me so… I don’t know. If I actually leaved closer to the incident I’d have the time to be more invested.


Sorry for the course language, but this a perfect example of what can happen to anyone attempting to protect, or uncover environmental destruction, illegal or otherwise, even in the global north.

Look what happened at “Cop City” in Georgia, adjacent to a protected forest.

That reporter is extremely lucky they we’re only arrested. Hopefully they wont be charged with “terrorism” which is the new trend to silence reporters and environmental guardians, worldwide.

Many environmental guardians are much less fortunate.

Final thoughts:
How many tenured professors, including contributors here, or to eBird, or other portals… the “experts” are currently paying for their 3rd or 4th homes, with massive dividends granted from historic environmental “research” paid for by polluters and oil firms that have legally destroyed our natural wealth (in the US alone) for the last 150 years.

For the admins, disbelievers and the like, I know I’m very disliked here for my lack of education, being overly forward, callus and direct regarding environmental destruction, but for those in doubt I will remind you that resources like wealthX and their competitors exist for a reason, if you work for a university, at least in the US all of this information is public and legally accessible, might take you a few weeks to get the data, but there’s a paper trail for every contribution made to your institution, or department, a mile long, around every scrap of new, old and dirty money.

Information surrounding university donations is publicly accessible due to IRS and SEC regulations, your schools financial development office would be the people to consult, the request will be informal, but after consultation from the higher ups, you might be able find what you’re looking for…


I live way out in California, and am not connected with anyone in the region. I suspect I’d have little luck drumming up support for the project, and I’m pretty disconnected from the event itself, the watersheds and their boundaries, and am not sure about encouraging people to go into contaminated areas.

I suppose I was hoping that someone would say “yes, here’s the project, and wow, it has X observations already”.


Looking at a watershed map - looks like East Palestine is only about 10 miles from the Ohio river and the entire area is within the watershed going directly into that river.

I actually was at the Ohio river on Saturday (about 100 miles further downstream) but I wasn’t even aware of this at all. Being such a big river contaminants likely get diluted quickly. And, for better or worse, probably makes not much difference for water quality in this particular case… https://www.lpm.org/news/2022-10-04/industry-dumped-more-toxic-pollution-into-the-ohio-river-than-any-other-u-s-watershed-in-2020


Maybe announcement for all naturalist in both states could help, somebody might be able to drive there and made own report, at least for opened areas. With hoe many users the country has there must be some who are ready to do that, if they can drive through states to see a bird, they can do it to document disaster.
If there’re area-linked projects, state or county, those could be asked.




This is so under-reported. I realize it’s a totally different situation, but having grown up in PA during the 70s, it’s hard not to think of Three Mile Island and the lack of information about it at the time. Thank you for sharing the article.


Why am I not surprised? Because the system is not broken; it is working exactly as designed.

I will not mention any names, I but I am aware of a major plant taxonomy institution funded by Monsanto.


the entities responsible

The entity responsible in this particular case is Norfolk Southern. The same Norfolk Southern that lobbied against regulations that could’ve prevented this very situation. The same Norfolk Southern that was facing a strike late last year because employees were fed up with understaffing and a lack of safety precautions, until a bipartisan initiative backed by industry lobbyists revoked their right to collective action.


I understand the strong feelings here, the discussion has strayed quite a bit from the original question. We try as much as possible to keep discourse focused on iNaturalist here. Not because other topics aren’t important, but because this forum’s focus is specifically for iNat. As the original question has been answered, I’m going to close the topic.