As government officials continue to claim that the air and water are fine after a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in Ohio, the state’s Department of Natural Resources estimated that 44,000 animals have died from the toxic contamination.
Of the 44,000 dead animals, the ODNR said that an estimated 38,222 were minnows, ranging in size between 1 and 3 inches.
“ODNR used a calculation endorsed by the American Fisheries Society to estimate the total number of minnows killed in the entire 5-mile span of waterway from the derailment site to the point where Bull Creek flows into the north fork of Little Beaver Creek,” the department said in a statement. “Of the estimate, 38,222 were minnows, ranging in size between 1 and 3 inches.”
The statement continued, “ODNR also estimated the total number of other aquatic life killed as a result of the derailment, including small fish, crayfish, amphibians, and macroinvertebrates. This number is approximately 5,500.”
“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,” the statement said. “There is no immediate threat to minnows, fish, or other aquatic species – in fact, live fish have returned to Leslie Run. None of the species killed are believed to be endangered or threatened.”
ODNR Director Mary Mertz said that “the morning after the train derailment in East Palestine, ODNR Wildlife personnel and officers responded to survey the waterways to determine the impact of the chemical spill on aquatic life. Upon arrival, the Ohio EPA advised our teams that it was too dangerous to enter the water without specialized gear and equipment.”
“This new calculation estimates that a total of 38,222 minnows were potentially killed as a result of the derailment,” Mertz continued. “It is estimated that a total of around 5,500 other species – again, things like small fish, crayfish, amphibians and macroinvertebrates, were also potentially killed as a result of the derailment.”
Mertz continued, “The investigation has thus far concluded that of the 7-and-a-half-mile impacted area, the species were killed over a 5-mile span. This area of impact runs from the train derailment site near Sulphur Run to where Bull Creek flows into the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek.”
She added that they are awaiting the test results of several non-aquatic animals, including three birds and an opossum.
On Friday, the Ohio EPA released their final testing results, saying “that there is no indication of risk to East Palestine Public Water customers.”
“Treated drinking water shows no detection of contaminants associated with the derailment,” the agency said.
Politicians, including Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, started drinking the tap water in East Palestine on camera over the weekend to “prove” that it is safe.
Many have remained skeptical as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has estimated that at least 3,500 fish, primarily minnows and darters, have been found dead spanning over seven miles of streams.