Local residents of East Palestine, Ohio are now suffering from severe health issues just weeks after a train derailment resulted in the spill of toxic chemicals which were released into the soil.
The derailment caused a massive fire, sparking concern among public officials that an explosion could result. Soon after, a decision was made by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro to conduct a “controlled release” to burn off chemicals — a decision meant to prevent rail cars from exploding, but that resulted in hazardous chemicals being released into the air.
Now, members of the local community are developing health issues, indicating that the collateral damage from the derailment could be extensive.
Wade Lovett says that he has had difficulty breathing since the derailment and fire.
“Doctors say I definitely have the chemicals in me but there’s no one in town who can run the toxicological tests to find out which ones they are,” Lovett, 40, an auto detailer, told the New York Post. “My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse. My normal voice is low. It’s hard to breathe, especially at night. My chest hurts so much at night I feel like I’m drowning. I cough up phlegm a lot. I lost my job because the doctor won’t release me to go to work.”
Immediately after the accident, officials were concerned about the presence of vinyl chloride, as well as phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which prompted a mandatory evacuation for a one-mile radius around the crash site.
But, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a letter sent to Norfolk Southern Railway Company that included a full list of chemicals released in the derailment, confirming that other more toxic chemicals were released into the air and soil, including ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate.
Jami Cozza, 46, says many of her 47 close relatives in East Palestine are suffering health issues following the derailment.
“My fiancé was so sick that I almost took him to the hospital,” Cozza told The Post.
“Not only am I fighting for my family’s life, but I feel like I’m fighting for the whole town’s life. When I’m walking around hearing these stories, they’re not from people. They’re from my family. They’re from my friends that I’ve have grown up with,” she said. “People are desperate right now. We’re dying slowly. They’re poisoning us slowly.”
The Biden administration has now ordered a team of 19 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) representatives to go door-to-door to track the symptoms people are experiencing.
House Republicans on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee have launched an investigation into the cause of and response to the accident.