Fact Check

Are Videos of Dead Fish Near Ohio Train Derailment Real?

Numerous videos of dead fish in a brook described as being near the Ohio train derailment and chemical release went viral in February 2023.

Published Feb. 14, 2023

Videos taken after the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment and the subsequent release of hazardous chemicals show dead fish in a nearby brook.

On Feb. 3, 2023, a 50-car freight train transporting hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. On Feb. 6, fears over the instability of one of those chemicals led the operator, Norfolk Southern Railroad, to begin a "controlled release" of the toxic chemical vinyl chloride. The move prompted the evacuation of the immediate area around the derailment and led to a fiery plume of chemicals. 

Just days later, residents were told it was safe to return. These statements were greeted with significant skepticism. A commonly cited challenge to assurances of no safety risk was reports of dead fish in proximity to the chemical release. Several videos showing this event went viral in the derailment's aftermath. These videos — at least all of those filmed from the same small brook in East Palestine — are authentic. 

One video, shared on TikTok and other platforms, shows workers for an environmental sciences company working in a brook and collecting dead fish:

Another shared on Twitter shows this same location, identifying it as Leslie Run:

Here, Snopes addresses two questions. First, do these videos authentically show a location close to the East Palestine train derailment? And second, do these videos show real events that occurred after the derailment? The answer to both questions is yes.

The videos, along with their descriptions, provide enough information to make a precise geolocation of their location in Google Maps:


This location is approximately 3.4 miles from the site of the derailment and chemical release, based on information from Google Maps:


Second, the presence of dead fish, as well as environmental workers working in Leslie Run, was widely reported by local news media at the time, confirming the events as having occurred after the chemical release. One example comes from Pennsylvania-based CBS Pittsburgh, reporting on Feb. 6, 2023:

Because local reporting confirms the chronology and because geolocation of the brook is possible, these viral videos authentically show dead fish in close proximity to the East Palestine derailment and subsequent chemical release. 


Dead Fish Found in Leslie Run near East Palestine Train Derailment. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF4GsAUjacw. Accessed 14 Feb. 2023.

"East Palestine Train Derailment: What We Know about the Situation." Cincinnati Enquirer, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2023/02/13/east-palestine-ohio-train-derailment-facts/69898564007/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2023.

"Residents Wonder Whether It's Safe to Return after Toxic Train Derailment." Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/02/12/east-palestine-ohio-derailment-residents/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2023.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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