DERAILED: Disaster in East Palestine

Mistrust stirs on East Palestine crisis as Ohio sues Norfolk Southern

Lawmakers, state authorities and federal officials continued to meet on the Norfolk Southern Ohio derailment disaster as residents plead for action.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, left, and Sen. JD Vance.
Kevin Wolf / AP

It has been weeks since a disastrous derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio, last month that spilled toxic chemicals into a small community, which was later caught on fire causing widespread concern about pollution in the air, ground and water supply.  

Attorney General Dave Yost of Ohio said the derailment was "entirely avoidable," echoing the words of other officials.

Norfolk Southern spokesperson Connor Spielmaker told CNN, “We are also listening closely to concerns from the community about whether there could be long-term impacts from the derailment.”

Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio recently expressed concerns over the delay in cleaning up "mounds of toxic dirt" in the village. 

Vance told Nathaniel Reed of Scripps News, "We have now the EPA making it harder to ship these materials outside of East Palestine as part of the cleanup."

Scripps News Cleveland recently went out into East Palestine and spoke to over 100 people over the course of 48 hours asking them how safe they felt on a number of issues to gauge their trust of the process. 

70% said they didn't feel the water was safe enough to drink. 

Trust in government and those involved, from the EPA to Norfolk Southern to the state of Ohio and local government, were low with all scoring below 40% from those surveyed as far as being very satisfied. With trust levels for Norfolk Southern falling below 10% according to those surveyed. 

Scripps News Survey: East Palestine residents still avoiding tap water
Scripps News Survey: East Palestine residents still avoiding tap water

Scripps News Survey: East Palestine residents still avoiding tap water

News 5 Cleveland and Scripps News surveyed residents of East Palestine, Ohio, about the aftermath of the train derailment there.


Vance said of the numbers, "Well, they're not surprising to me; they're certainly consistent with what I see on the ground in East Palestine, which is that a lot of people just don't trust their government. They don't trust the EPA, and they don't trust Norfolk Southern.""So there is a lot of mistrust all around," he said. 

Criticism has come as some authorities have urged residents to drink the water, but lawmakers say mistrust will continue as the process of cleaning up the disaster site continues to be delayed. 

CNN reported that a doctor observed 170 people and said the most common symptom was headache, with 74% of people observed complaining of that symptom. 

64% of people observed out of that group said they felt anxiety, while 61% reported coughing and 58% reported experiencing fatigue. 52% of those observed reported feeling pain or burning of the skin. 

Vance told Scripps News, "We've got to get the toxic mounds of dirt out of East Palestine, into properly licensed facilities."

"We have to continue to test, and we have to listen to people" and their concern about the air, water and soil quality, Vance said. He said they are not going to be persuaded by federal officials who come in and tell them to drink the water. 

Vance said he believes it's important to continue to shine a light on East Palestine because the problem is "not going to disappear tomorrow, and it's not going to disappear next week" he said.