Norfolk Southern sent a representative to East Palestine to attend a town hall meeting, and the results were not pretty.
Whatever message he brought from the beleaguered company fell on deaf ears as residents voiced their frustrations with the aftermath of last month’s derailment and ensuing release of toxic chemicals.
The startling lack of response by the federal government only worsened criticism leveled at the railroad company. One resident screamed at him, “I’m begging you, by the grace of God, please get our people out of here.”
Another worried East Palestine parent, Heidi Paparella, has daughters who are now ill after the devastating accident. One has developed a rash and is having to use an inhaler.
She relayed a simple but powerful message to those who are unfamiliar with the crisis wrought on the community. “I want them to know that we’re not okay; the air and stuff is not okay.”
The nightmare in East Palestine is only getting worse:
"I am begging you, by the grace of God, please get our people out of here… My grandchildren, my children, it's not safe here, sir, we're sick."pic.twitter.com/7U2eDgg6hv
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) March 5, 2023
The derailment over four weeks ago unleashed vinyl chloride, ethyl acrylate, and isobutylene into the area’s environment. Each of these is highly toxic and even carcinogenic if an individual’s exposure level is high enough.
East Palestine homeowners report a list of symptoms including eye and skin irritation, headaches, and nausea. Officials recently opened a health clinic to assist those with questions and concerns, but it came far too late for most residents.
The people of this town are far from ignorant. They plainly see the lack of response by the Biden administration to their woes. It took the White House nearly three weeks to release federal assistance for the community, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was notably hesitant to visit.
Information is slow in coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency. Workers at the crash site are falling ill and tens of thousands of animals have reportedly died.
There is a serious lack of protective gear for those trying to clean the mess, and they have precious little experience in dealing with these chemicals.
Democrats even floated blaming former President Donald Trump, though that ridiculous narrative failed to gain traction.
Norfolk Southern and the federal government sending sacrificial lambs to East Palestine is doing nothing to rectify the situation. Well-qualified boots on the ground and straight answers are what the residents both need and deserve, not dubious claims of safety from afar.