‘Nobody Comes to Save Us’: Residents of Town Near Toxic Train Derailment Feel Forgotten | Ohio Train Derailment

aDense clouds of toxic smoke descended across western Darlington pennsylvaniaPatrick Dittman knew that a catastrophic train derailment across the East Palestinian border could pose a danger to his family as well.

The 30-year-old bartender lives and works just a few miles from Eastern Palestine. Ohioa 1.7-mile-long freight train in Norfolk Southern carrying a hodgepodge of dangerous chemicals partially derailed and caught fire on February 3.

Three days later, a billowing plume of smoke and the stench of burning plastic blew through Pennsylvania after crews conducted a controlled burning of the derailed train’s vinyl chloride to neutralize a potentially fatal explosion hazard. I got

A toxic cloud engulfed Darlington Township, a small rural community of 1,800 residents, covering lawns, crops and cars with black soot.

“Even though we lived outside the evacuation zone, we wanted to run away and had nowhere to go. This way we are not informed of the impact – it’s very worrying,” said Dittmann. .

The regulators overseeing the decontamination of eastern Palestine have pledged to help pay for the multi-billion dollar railroad company, but neighboring communities feel forgotten.

Dittman spent $300 on private lab tests to check for volatile organic compounds such as vinyl chloride and benzene. A carcinogenic chemical leaked from the trainwith soil and well water in his garden.

He was relieved when they came back in the clear but now awaits the results of a very expensive test in growth Concerns about chemical by-products of vinyl chloride Dioxins and others, which environmental health experts warn, are highly toxic and long lasting and can accumulate in soil and water ingested by grazing animals and crops.

“I have a 7-month-old daughter, so I am doing everything I can to ensure her safety. No,” Dittman said.

Eastern Palestinian Territory map

Norfolk Southern, which made $3 billion in profit last year, said it would invest $11.8 million in East Palestine and consider individual requests from outside the town’s zip code.

“Nobody cares this side of the border. We’re not as affected as Eastern Palestine, but we’re affected,” said Donald Trump and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Max Knechtel, 26, a patron of the Griasburg Tavern, who has seen news reports of the political repercussions of the train crash, said. , to Eastern Palestine last week.

“My house is 50 feet from the railroad tracks, my kids played outside and my dog ​​got sick. would try to blame it on everything but the train.

Darlington is a small rural community where deer hunting, fishing and planting vegetable gardens are common activities for residents, who rely on private wells where they have to monitor water quality, rather than regulators. .

Like in Eastern Palestine, people here are outraged and want Norfolk Southern to be held accountable, but first and foremost is the need to protect themselves and their families from long-term health complications. I’m looking for clear information and guidance on how best to proceed.

A Darlington police officer, who was among dozens of first responders dispatched from Pennsylvania to the scene, said, “I was doing my job and this is why I can’t be put in the grave any sooner.” I hope that

Local authorities were not immediately aware, as the 149-car train was classified as a general freight train, not a high-risk combustible train. what toxins First responders and residents were exposed when 50 cars derailed or caught fire.

The officer, who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, lives 20 miles east of eastern Palestine, where a black, toxic cloud was overwhelming his community. “Fishing and deer hunting are a big part of our lives, and we have so many cows and horses that we all worry about soil and water. But it was completely forgotten on this side of the border.”

Federal and state officials said Norfolk Southern Tens of millions of dollars in campaign donations and lobbying Washington’s opposition to stricter regulation will make it responsible for the environmental and health costs resulting from the disaster. “100% preventable”.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the lead Cleanup operations amid growing criticism of lack of leadership, mixed messages and inadequate testing

There are growing calls to expand testing to include dioxins and dioxins. PFASis a perpetual chemical found in firefighting foam that accumulates in water, soil, plants and animals, and environmental health experts warn it represents the greatest risk to human health.

On Thursday, officials ordered Norfolk Southern to test dioxin disaster sites — a family of carcinogenic compounds likely spread by plumes, ingested by distant surface waters (rivers, streams, streams) and groundwater sources, and grazing. cattle, horses, deer, and they can be absorbed by vegetables and other crops eaten by humans. PFAS contamination should be confined to areas of foam but can persist for decades when absorbed into soil and water.

Residents are frustrated. “The toxins haven’t settled yet, so I’m not too worried right now, but the well water needs to be tested, but no one is here to tell us what we should do.” Her granddaughter and German Shepherd were playing in a muddy yard five miles from the derailment.

Kari Borat of Darlington, Pennsylvania, worries about the long-term effects of chemical burns on well water from a train derailment. Photo: Nina Lakani/The Guardian

“Shortly after, regulators were absolutely right to be most concerned about the acute toxicity of contaminated air and water sources. “They should also clearly communicate to private well owners what contaminants need to be monitored and when.” People need clear answers, their concerns should not be blown away.”

The contaminated topsoil should be replaced with clean soil by the time of planting, but it can take months for the dioxins to reach the wells, Southerland added.

The Guardian spoke to several residents of Eastern Palestine and Darlington. These people have spent hundreds of dollars on laboratory tests without a clear understanding of what and when to test.

Information gaps fuel fear, misinformation.

Sherry Anderson, 57, who lives just 2.6 miles from the disaster area, drives to Eastern Palestine to pick up a bottle of water donated by a local business. As freight trains carrying toxic and flammable substances pass by, they are piled up on pallets in Chevrolet dealership parking lots.

“I own a 60-acre farm and I am not sure if I will be able to plant a garden this year. I am not sure if my land is safe. “Hmm,” said Anderson, who grows tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, lettuce, and peppers for his family, while his father-in-law grows beans, wheat, and hay commercially.

Amid mounting concerns among Pennsylvanians, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro said: Opens resource center in Darlington Township On Wednesday, residents can sign up for water tests and receive advice on health issues, food and animal safety through March 10.

This is an important step, but concerns about the long-term effects pervade the vast Ohio Valley. In the Ohio Valley, many communities are already polluted by heavy industry.

Justice Slappy operates Urban Gardens in Steubenville, Ohio. Residents are concerned about environmental toxins produced by the East Palestinian disaster.
Justice Slappy operates Urban Gardens in Steubenville, Ohio. This is where residents worry about environmental toxins produced by the East Palestinian disaster. Photo: Nina Lakani/The Guardian

“We are already dealing with so much pollution, and black communities are often the last to know about health risks,” says Urban Gardens, which runs Urban Gardens in Steubenville, a small city south of East Palestine. said Justice Slappy. A train carrying garbage that derailed in November.

Experts say Steubenville, which draws its water from the Ohio River, is too far away to be directly affected by chemical burns, but some of its toxic waste is being sent to an industry located between the city and East Palestine in East Liverpool. A decision was made to send it to an incinerator. It did little to alleviate fear.

Slappy said: Community gardens are the only place some people can get fresh produce. Is Eastern Palestine trying to destroy what we are doing here?” ‘Nobody Comes to Save Us’: Residents of Town Near Toxic Train Derailment Feel Forgotten | Ohio Train Derailment

Related Articles

Back to top button