'The railroad did us wrong': Norfolk Southern reps skip town hall on Ohio train derailment

'The railroad did us wrong': Norfolk Southern reps skip town hall on Ohio train derailment
Image via screengrab.

On Wednesday night, February 15, a town hall was held in East Palestine, Ohio — where residents have reported headaches, nausea and other symptoms following the February 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train that was carrying hazardous materials. Attendees were hoping that Norfolk Southern representatives would participate in the town hall, but according to Axios, they were nowhere to be found.

The train included 50 cars, 20 of which contained toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride. After the derailment, a controlled burn was carried out in order to prevent an explosion. And that burn released toxic chemicals into the air.

Over 2000 East Palestine residents were evacuated but have since been allowed to return to their homes. Erin Brockovich, the environmental activist famously portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 movie, has urged President Joe Biden to "get more involved" in the crisis.

READ MORE:Erin Brockovich urges Biden to 'get more involved' as toxic chemicals imperil Ohio and Pennsylvania

Norfolk Southern, in an official statement, said its representatives would not attend the February 15 town hall because of a "growing physical threat" to its employees.

On February 15, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine — who was reelected in 2022 — said that the tap water in East Palestine is safe to drink. But a woman attending the town hall, according to Axios reporter Sam Allard, said, in response, "If there's nothing in the air and nothing in the water, why are people still getting sick?"

Other attendees, according to Allard, said it was hard to believe East Palestine’s drinking water was safe when there are reports of 3500 fish dying in local waterways after the derailment. And a male attendee commented, "This whole town’s infected."

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway attended the town hall, where he told attendees, "The railroad did us wrong. So far, they've worked with us and are fixing it. But if that stops, I guarantee you I'll be the first in line to fight them."

READ MORE: 'I don't want to take my kids back to that': Ohioans fear aftermath of toxic freight train derailment

Allard notes, "Ohio EPA officials confirmed that residential air testing would continue upon request, but did little to assuage the fear and anxiety of those in attendance…. As residents continue to file lawsuits against Norfolk Southern, the railway announced Tuesday, (February 14) a $1 million community fund."

READ MORE: Ohio Journalist details the 'bleak economic reality' surrounding the hazardous train derailment

Axios’ full report is available at this link.

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