EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WJW) — Beachwood City Schools‘ athletic department chose to forfeit the district’s girls basketball playoff game versus Crestview High School that was set for Saturday, Feb. 18, since the school is just miles away from East Palestine.
“As a result of the train derailment and reports of toxic/hazardous chemicals and environmental concerns, we felt it was in our best interest to either move the game to a neutral site or forfeit the game,” reads a statement from the district’s Athletic Director Ryan Peters.
School officials reached out to the Northeast District Athletic Board in an attempt to move the game, but the Ohio High School Athletic Association ultimately denied the request — twice.
“[Friday morning] I made the same request and was denied again,” Peters wrote. “As a result, we have made the decision to not play this game.
“Our community extends our sympathies and well wishes to all of the families having to deal with this very difficult situation. We wish the Crestview Girls Basketball team and coaches all the best in the playoffs.”
Thirty-eight train cars derailed just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 3, sparking a fire that damaged another dozen cars, according to a preliminary report from federal investigators. Ten of those derailed cars were carrying hazardous material including vinyl chloride and three other chemicals that weren’t initially announced. Here’s a full list of what the train was carrying.
The derailment dumped toxic chemicals into waterways and led to an hours-long controlled burn on Feb. 6, during which a thick, black plume rose over the town.
The plume of chemicals that spilled into the Ohio River has broken up and is no longer a concern, Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday, but worries remain among residents near the disaster site who’ve complained about lingering headaches and irritated eyes, the Associated Press reported.
Despite repeated assurances that air and water testing has shown no signs of contaminants, some around East Palestine, along the Pennsylvania state line, are still skeptical and afraid to return to their homes.