It has been two weeks since the infamous Norfolk Southern freight train carrying noxious chemicals through East Palestine, Ohio, derailed and blew up in a “controlled explosion.” And we are still no closer, despite promises from the company, to learning the extent of the deadly chemical release.
Area residents are growing restless without these answers, and some of them have joined a class-action lawsuit claiming the exposure they have already incurred is causing them to develop “DNA mutations.”
The long-term health implications of exposure to vinyl chloride, one of the chemicals being hauled by the train, are serious and many. They include hepatic angiosarcoma, a rare form of liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, another form of liver cancer, various brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.
There were other chemicals on that train, though, that Norfolk is refusing to disclose. Despite a promise from CEO Alan Shaw that the company “will not walk away” from East Palestine, area residents, including Mayor Trent Conaway, are fuming over the lack of honesty coming from Norfolk.
In a statement to the media – watch below – Conaway blasted Norfolk for refusing to show up to a town hall meeting to properly address area residents:
East Palestine Ohio mayor Trent Conaway is furious the community came out for a town hall and the railroad refused to show up Norfolk Southern didn’t have the nerve to address the town. pic.twitter.com/HSysWKt8mj
— ?_Imposter_ (@Imposter_Edits) February 16, 2023
(Related: Learn more about the persistence of dioxins and how they threaten to sicken and kill people exposed to them for many years to come.)
Norfolk Southern claims its crews are on the ground supporting East Palestine, but residents say this is a lie
Residents as far away as Pittsburgh say they are already suffering short-term health impacts from the disaster. They worry about the long-term health impacts that have yet to manifest, and want Norfolk to be held accountable for them.
“My simple answer is that we are here and will stay here for as long as it takes to ensure your safety and to help East Palestine recover and thrive,” Shaw wrote in a letter to those in the vicinity of the wreck and explosion.
“Our work is underway. Crews are cleaning the site thoroughly, responsibly, and safely … And we have established a $1 million community support fund as a down payment on our commitment to help rebuild.”
None of this appears to be true, however, as residents say Norfolk is not out on the ground supporting them as Shaw claims.
“They’re not out here supporting,” said East Palestine resident Kathy Dyke during the meeting. “For three days, we didn’t even know what was on the train.”
“I have three grandbabies. Are they going to grow up here in five years and have cancer? So those are all factors that play on my mind.”
So far, there are at least five class-action negligence lawsuits that have been filed by area residents and business owners who were impacted by the fiery inferno and the smoke and chemical plumes it released.
“Residents exposed to vinyl chloride may already be undergoing DNA mutations that could linger for years or even decades before manifesting as terrible and deadly cancers,” said attorney John Morgan in a statement.
“The lawsuit alleges that Norfolk Southern made it worse by essentially blasting the town with chemicals as they focused on restoring train service and protecting their shareholders.”
“I’m not sure Norfolk Southern could have come up with a worse plan to address this disaster.”
The latest news coverage about the East Palestine train derailment incident can be found at Disaster.news.
Sources for this article include: