DERAILED: Disaster in East Palestine

Ohio still plagued with toxic chemicals 1 month after derailment

Residents are demanding transparency as clean up continues, one month after a Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Ohio still plagued with toxic chemicals 1 month after derailment
Scripps News
SMS

You can't drive through East Palestine, Ohio, without noticing bumper-to-bumper clean-up trucks: Vehicles hauling waste from the closed-off derailment site, after about three dozen Norfolk Southern train cars derailed in February, with eleven of them carrying hazardous material. 

Crews are still working to clean up toxic chemicals left behind.

Joy Mascher owns Flowers Straight from the Heart in downtown East Palestine. 

"This was a catastrophe. It wasn't a derailment — it was a catastrophe," she said.  

Mascher says residents are beyond frustrated with a lack of transparency from both the EPA and the rail company. 

"I mean, it's just like we don't matter. Like they thought they could just sweep this under the new railroad track and be done with it and it's wrong," she continued.

East Palestine residents meet with activist Erin Brockovich
East Palestine residents meet with activist Erin Brockovich

East Palestine residents meet with activist Erin Brockovich

High-profile activist Erin Brockovich spoke with residents in the village of East Palestine, Ohio on Friday evening during a town hall event.

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Like many in the tiny town of 4,700, Mascher witnessed the controlled burn of chemical compounds following the derailment, as thick black smoke smoldered into the air and chemicals seeped into the soil. 

Ron Dixon wants the well on his property checked, along with the air quality in his home.

"I hate breathing the air," he said. "Is it OK? They say it's OK, but how can you say that when you see that plume of smoke and the dead fish?"

But Dixon lives 0.8 miles outside the EPA's designated 1-mile radius. He says he wants testing done beyond that. 

"I understand the people inside the 1-mile radius take priority, but don't forget about us," he said.

And even further from the derailment site, across the state line, is Darlington, Pennyslvania, which is about four miles southeast of East Palestine. 

Norfolk Southern issues safety plan after East Palestine derailment
Norfolk Southern issues safety plan after East Palestine derailment

Norfolk Southern issues safety plan after East Palestine derailment

Norfolk Southern says its plan is based on the NTSB's report that found the train's bearing temperature reached a critical level.

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Pennsylvania residents gathered at the Darlington Township Municipality building Monday — four weeks after the crash, still with unanswered questions. 

"Typically, it's the elderly folks who might not have other ways to get information or just want that face-to-face communication," Pennsylvania Department of Health Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response Andy Pickett said.

"As I told the gentlemen from the DEP, you can draw whatever circles you want on your map—but the toxic cloud doesn't recognize that," Pennsylvania resident Mark Bonavarte said.

Mascher says when it comes to what’s in the water, many residents are calling for independent testing. 

"We need answers. We need honesty," Mascher said. "We can take truth; We just want the truth."

Scripps News cameras captured crews with EnviroScience Monday, testing Little Beaver Creek in Ohioville, Pennsylvania, which is 18 miles from the crash site.  

The company has worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to test area creeks and streams, determining more than 38,000 fish have already died as result of the derailment.