East Palestine derailment concerns persist: 'Don't ignore the cries of your neighbors'
Eight months after the toxic train derailment in East Palestine residents spoke before the council meeting about problems that are not being addressed.
Monday, October 9th 2023, 11:46 PM EDT
Eight months after the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, residents spoke before the council meeting about problems that are not being addressed. They are also still complaining of rashes, coughing and other problems.
They are calling out Ohio's EPA and Norfolk Southern. They say, these entities are not testing the homes of those who live feet from ground zero of the toxic train derailment that took place February 3, 2023.
They are also asking the village council to keep an open mind during an upcoming round table panel and to listen to outside scientists about toxic chemicals and testing.
Members of the Unity Council are asking city council and the mayor to represent all residents in East Palestine.
"I urge you please stand up for your community members who are sick," said Jamie Wallace, President of the Unity Council.
"There are people who contact me every day. They work for the school, they're in the fire department. I don't want to be harassed the way you've been harassed they say, what kind of community is that, when your neighbor is afraid to tell you they're having seizures because they're afraid your on the other side. There should be no other side. We are a community," emphasized Wallace.
Wallace added, "I was told the first thing they will do is divide and conquer. And I told them 'This is East Palestine. No way.' But that is what they have done. I know this job is harder than what you expected, but please don't ignore the cries of your neighbors."
Those 21 News heard from at the meeting are worried about toxic chemicals, such as dioxins and vinyl chloride, and any health hazards they could cause.
"After the EPA said, "The readings -- they're there but you're OK, you're safe,' I tested positive for vinyl chloride," Krissy Ferguson said.
"It is unreasonable anyone in the village should have to worry about the safety of our homes simply because the EPA and Norfolk Southern are refusing to test," Tamara Freeze added.
Those residents also say, the EPA is refusing to test -- even for folks who live a couple hundred feet away from ground zero.
"The EPA says, we will not test until the clean up is done. So these people have been living eight, nine months, when the EPA is refusing testing. I Googled 'EPA' and 'lies.' Nine pages come up, and everybody knows about Flint, Michigan and 9/11," Daren Gamble said.
The group says the toxins and cancer-causing chemicals in the water are not a past problem, but a current one.
"There are levels of benzines in the creeks and I've just heard the EPA found out that as well, but my levels were not surprisingly higher than theirs. I took my own samples and put them on ice and drove them to Cleveland for testing," Dr. Rick Tsai said.
Folks are asking elected leaders to join in a panel of research experts discussing chemicals and independent testing. That will take place September 16 at 6 p.m. through Zoom.
"Some of the folks have higher credentials than some of the folks working for the EPA have," Chase Kinder said.
21 News will be checking in to let you know which elected officials join in that zoom meeting.
During Monday's council meeting, one businessman stood up and said that he wants the city to turn the page on the problems due to bad publicity. He said he wants the city to instead focus on growing business and told council and the mayor that the Unity Council doesn't represent him or many others in the room. But only around 10 to 15 people in the standing-room-only crowd of about 100 clapped to show support for his statement.
Many residents expressed that they want to continue living their lives, but they also want answers and the truth.
Those we spoke with in East Palestine did not want to talk on camera. But they say, they do want testing so they know more about what their futures may hold after being exposed to toxic chemicals in their homes, streams and air.