Town Hall Meeting Set in East Palestine

Residents of East Palestine who have concerns about lingering health issues in the wake of a Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment will get a chance on Wednesday to discuss those.

The community of 4,800 on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border will conduct a 7 p.m. town hall meeting at the East Palestine high school at which time attendees can ask questions of railroad and health agency officials.

“This will be an opportunity for East Palestine residents and those in surrounding areas for question and answer,” Mayor Trent Conaway said in a news release.

The derailment created massive fires and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents within a mile radius of the derailment site due to a health threat posed by leaking hazardous materials.

On Monday news reports indicated the train that derailed was carrying hazardous materials that had previously not been disclosed.

The additional chemicals released into the air and soil included ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate and isobutylene.

Other substances known to have been carried by the train included vinyl chloride, phosgene and hydrogen chloride.

Reports have been emerging about animals becoming ill and dying in the wake of the derailment and a controlled release of hazardous materials to prevent a potential explosion.

One woman said her chickens died after a controlled burn of chemicals took place.

News reports said resident of East Palestine have reported a strong odor remaining in their community and experiencing a burning sensation in their eyes.

Several residents have filed lawsuits against NS in the days following the derailment alleging negligence on the part of the Class 1 railroad.

Some of the plaintiffs are seeking a court-supervised medical screenings for anyone within a 30-mile radius of the derailment for serious illnesses that may be caused by exposure to those chemicals.

Environmental officials have said the air quality in East Palestine is safe as is the town’s drinking water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has been monitoring air quality and has yet to detect “any levels of concern” in East Palestine as of Sunday.

Environmental officials have checked air and water quality in the homes of residents in a voluntary program.

Some of the substances shown on a list of the train’s cargo that was compiled by NS and released by the EPA show chemicals that can cause headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems. Some chemicals can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

The Columbiana County Health Department has advised residents to contact their medical provider if they experience symptoms.

WKYC-TV of Cleveland reported that the EPA has told NS that that federal law may make it liable for cleanup of the derailment site.

The agency sent NS a General Notice of Potential Liability that said the railroad may be responsible for the EPA’s costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the release of “hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.

East Palestine police said a group may be going to homes in town to notify residents that their drinking water may be at risk. The group includes contractors working for NS who will provide tests.

Police also warned of scammers going door-to-door claiming to be from NS and gathering information to offer financial help.

NS has said that the only assistance it is providing is coming from officials an assistance center that it has established in New Waterford.

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