Fear and Mistrust Linger After Chemical Exposure

fear and mistrust persist from exposure to chemicals

The town of East Palestine, with a population of 4,700, is facing a crisis of fear and mistrust. Residents are frustrated and scared after a train owned by the company ‘Norfolk Southern’ derailed on February 3. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed air pollution meters on various streets to detect levels of toxicity, but Karl Martin, a resident of the town, has stolen one of them to take home with him as no one has come to measure the air quality in his house.

More than 500 homes have been inspected to analyze toxicity levels and the EPA continues to ensure that the area is safe and that air quality samples in the area of debris and in residential neighborhoods nearby have not shown levels of toxicity above normal. However, some local media outlets claim to have spoken to people who have reported the death of their animals and several neighbors have reported headaches, vomiting, nausea, itching and stinging in the throat and eyes.

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Authorities now recommend drinking bottled water and are trying to clean up the river that runs through East Palestine after more than 3,500 dead fish turned up in recent days. The wells that supply the town and also the private ones are being examined, and huge machines that shoot water have been placed in an attempt to clean the rivers. In addition, small dams have been placed to prevent the chemically contaminated water from continuing to flow down the river. Volunteers can be seen handing out packages of bottles of water for free.

The lack of transparency and presence of authorities has only increased the mistrust among the residents. The White House has announced the dispatch of medical experts to ground zero to assess the damage from the disaster, 17 days after it struck. However, it was not until this Saturday that the CEO of the ‘Norfolk Southern’ railway company, Alan Shaw, visited East Palestine and assured reporters that he was there “to support the community” but declined to comment further.

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The residents of East Palestine are left with more questions than answers, and fear and uncertainty remain in the air.


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