EAST PALESTINE, Ohio - Amazon donated more than 1,400 cases of bottled water to residents dealing with the aftermath of a derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio, which resulted in a controlled release and burn of hazardous fumes and environmental health concerns over the quality of air and water.
Amazon’s Pittsburgh and Cleveland sites partnered to donate and help distribute over 1,400 cases of bottled water on Wednesday morning, the company confirmed to FOX Television Stations.
East Palestine, a village of just under 5,000 residents, is located near the Pennsylvania state line. More than 30 Amazon employees from both regions volunteered to take part in the effort.
Volunteers are pictured distributing bottled water on Feb. 22, 2023, in East Palestine, Ohio. (Credit: Provided / Amazon)
About 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed in the fiery crash on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, located near the Pennsylvania state line. Vinyl chloride was later released into the air from five of those cars to get rid of the highly flammable, toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, creating a dark plume of smoke.
Residents from nearby neighborhoods in both states were evacuated because of health risks from the fumes, but have since been allowed to return. But concerns over the quality of air and water have begun mounting for people in the area. So much so that Ohio’s governor and the head of the Environmental Protection Agency this week even volunteered to drink tap water at a local woman's home to demonstrate that the water is safe.
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited East Palestine to tour the derailment site amid growing criticism over the federal response to the derailment, while the National Transportation Safety Board also released its preliminary findings.
Investigators said in the report that a crew operating the freight train did not receive a critical warning about an overheated axle until just before dozens of cars went off the tracks.
An engineer eventually slowed and stopped the train after getting a "critical audible alarm message," the preliminary report said. The crew then saw fire and smoke and alerted dispatch of a possible derailment.
The axle investigators are focused on had been heating up as the train went down the tracks, but did not reach the threshold for stopping the train and inspecting it until just before the derailment, according to safety investigators. The train was going about 47 mph at the time, just under the speed limit of 50 mph, the report said.
The NTSB has said it has a video appearing to show a wheel bearing overheating just beforehand.
The Biden White House has defended its response to the derailment, saying officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, NTSB and other agencies were at the rural site within hours of the derailment. The White House said it has also offered federal assistance and FEMA has been coordinating with the state emergency operations center and other partners.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.