Residents of East Palestine Demand Answers After Train Derailment
On February 6, 2023, the small town of East Palestine, Ohio was rocked by a massive train derailment. One hundred cars carrying hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate, came off the tracks, causing a fire and the release of hazardous materials into the air. The cause of the derailment was a mechanical issue with a rail car axle, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Hours before the community town hall meeting was scheduled to start, Norfolk Southern officials announced they would not attend due to the “growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community.” The company stated, “We want to continue our dialogue with the community and address their concerns, and our people will remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents. We are not going anywhere.”
Despite the absence of a Norfolk Southern representative, the community still gathered to get answers regarding the incident. Residents from the surrounding area demanded answers from the railroad giant and wanted to know what had been done to ensure their safety.
In the wake of the incident, the company has provided over $1 million to over 700 families in East Palestine who were impacted by the evacuation. They also are cleaning up the site in an environmentally responsible way and reimbursing residents affected by the derailment.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sent a letter warning Norfolk Southern of legal action against the company due to the “pollution, which continues to contaminate the area around East Palestine, created a nuisance, damage to natural resources and caused environmental harm.” Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) also sent a letter to the company accusing them of mismanaging the incident and said that “prioritizing an accelerated and arbitrary timeline to reopen the rail line injected unnecessary risk and created confusion.”
Residents of East Palestine and the surrounding communities are still searching for answers regarding the impacts of the incident on human health and the environment. The company has implemented environmental monitoring forms and has asked residents who want air and water testing to contact the Residential Re-Entry Request Hotline at (330) 849-3919.
0. “Railroad Giant To Skip Town Hall On Train Disaster, Citing ‘Physical Threats'” Yahoo! Voices, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/now/railroad-giant-skip-town-hall-001002462.html
1. “East Palestine residents meet with lawyers, hold town hall” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 15 Feb. 2023, https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2023/02/15/residents-meet-with-lawyers-hold-town-hall-ohio-train-derailment/69908083007/
2. “Hazardous materials expert speaks out as anger over intentional chemical release erupts at East Palestine, Ohio, town …” WSWS, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2023/02/16/ttjm-f16.html
3. “Ohio rail crash company Norfolk Southern runs scared of a town hall meeting in East Palestine” Daily Mail, 16 Feb. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11756719/Ohio-rail-crash-company-Norfolk-Southern-runs-scared-town-hall-meeting-East-Palestine.html
4. “Norfolk Southern announces over $1 million in reimbursements to East Palestine residents” WKBN.com, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/east-palestine-train-derailment/norfolk-southern-gives-millions-to-east-palestine/
5. “2023-02-14 | NYSE:NSC | Press Release | Norfolk Southern Corporation” Stockhouse, 14 Feb. 2023, https://stockhouse.com/news/press-releases/2023/02/14/norfolk-southern-establishes-1-million-fund-to-support-east-palestine-community
6. “East Palestine families and businesses receive $1 million dollars from Norfolk Southern” WFMJ, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.wfmj.com/story/48380286/east-palestine-families-and-businesses-receive-dollar1-million-dollars-from-norfolk-southern