RWR: A call to all Americans to blast the phone lines on the hill and the crashed emails NOW. Require government officials to do what they are paid to do, and their sworn duty. Do NOT let these Americans forget.
Easy navigation tool to contact your officials – see here
Contact Norfolk Southern here.
EAST PALESTINE, OHIO – Wade Lovett has had trouble breathing since the Feb. 3 Norfolk South train derailment and toxic explosion here. In fact, his voice sounds like he’s inhaled helium.
“The doctors say I definitely have the chemicals in me, but there’s no one in town who can do the toxicology tests to find out what they are,” Lovett, 40, an auto detailer, said in a voice extremely acute. “My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse. My normal voice is low. It’s hard to breathe, especially at night. My chest hurts so bad at night that I feel like I’m suffocating. I cough up a lot of phlegm. I lost work because the doctor won’t let me go to work.”
Despite his health problems, Lovett and his fiancee, Tawnya Irwin, 45, spent last Thursday delivering bottled water to locals. They picked up new cases outside a home on East Clark Street, which has become the heart of East Palestine’s own campaign to fight the forces that changed the lives of roughly 4,700 residents and their animals.
Locals are frustrated and angry at what they say has been a lack of real information and help from both local officials and the Biden administration. Last week, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway blasted President Biden for going to Ukraine for a surprise visit instead of the scene of the toxic train derailment, calling it “the biggest slap in the face” .
Leading the charge to fight for the community is Jami Cozza, 46, a lifelong eastern Palestinian who has 47 close relatives here. Many of them are facing health problems due to the chemical fire and the psychic toll on their city becoming, in the words of a scientist who visited the area on Thursday, the new “Canal of the love”, a reference to the neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York. which became a problem in 1978 because people got sick from living on top of a contaminated waste dump.
Even as famed environmental activist Erin Brockovich held a town hall Friday night, many residents say the fierce and forceful Cozza beat her to a pulp.
“I’ve known Jami my whole life and she’s very sharp,” Jason Trosky, 47, a lifelong resident of East Palestine, told The Post. “We’re lucky to have her. Brockovich came with her lawyer in tow. Will she help? Maybe, but also try to stay relevant. Jami will be here for us after the circus leaves town.”
Cozza, 46, who has lived in this small Ohio Valley town near the Pennsylvania border for most of her life, has her work cut out for her.
Tears fill her eyes as she talks about how her 91-year-old widowed grandmother tried to clean the chemicals from the furniture in the house she’s lived in for 56 years, before giving up and moving into a one-bedroom hotel where I couldn’t. sleep at night
Evacuation orders were lifted on February 8, but many residents say they had unexplained rashes and sore throats when they returned home. The streams that dot the city still fill with the telltale rainbow color of pollution if you throw a rock into them.
An independent analysis of Texas A&M University Environmental Protection Agency data released Friday found nine air pollutants at levels that could cause long-term health problems in and around East Palestine, apparently contradicting statements by state and federal regulators that the air there is safe.
“My fiance was so sick I almost took him to the hospital,” Cozza told The Post as she sat on the porch of her aunt’s East Clark Street home a few hours before leading her own gathering of the town hall on Thursday.
“I am not only fighting for the life of my family, but I feel that I am fighting for the life of the whole town. When I’m walking around listening to these stories, they’re not about people. They are from my family. They are some of my friends that I grew up with,” he said. “People are desperate right now. We are slowly dying. They are slowly poisoning us.”
Although President Trump, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former US Sen. Tulsi Gabbard and Brockovich visited East Palestine last week, Cozza and other residents said they know the media spotlight will fade. She’s determined to keep the pressure on when her town is old news.
A big part of the battle between Jami and the city involves questions about whether Norfolk Southern’s decision to effectively bombard the city with deadly chemicals in what they called a “controlled explosion” was the right one, or whether they were cheaper than cleaning up. the disaster the ground.
A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of hundreds of residents alleges that Norfolk Southern went rogue when it decided to blow up five train cars containing deadly vinyl chloride three days after the derailment, effectively poisoning the city and the nearby region About 1.1 million pounds of toxic vinyl chloride was spilled and then burned, sending thick, black plumes of smoke into the air and contaminating soil and water sources, the lawsuit claims.
A Norfolk Southern spokesman told The Post that the company consulted with experts, including Gov. Mike DeWine, after discovering, two days after the accident, that pressure relief devices in a train car had stopped working It also said it had to take measures in the form of a controlled burn to avoid what the company called a potential “catastrophic car failure.”
The National Safety Transportation Board report supports Norfolk Southern’s description of the rise in temperature in a train car and why the company decided to explode the chemicals in East Palestine.
But there are many who wonder if there was a better way.
“The company’s decision was very suspect,” Rene Rocha, of the law firm Morgan & Morgan and one of the lead attorneys in the class action case, told The Post. “Norfolk Southern dumped more vinyl chloride into a small area in eastern Ohio in one day than the entire industries of America combined in a year.”
Rocha also said the state of Ohio has eliminated punitive damages so the majority of South Norfolk would be ordered to pay East Palestine residents would be a total of $350,000. Norfolk Southern responded by saying it has already disbursed $8 million in aid to the city, including the controversial $1,000 checks paid to residents, as well as money for new equipment, a community fund and the cost of preliminary testing of the city and its residents. (The company is worth $51 billion.)
“What they could have done and should have done is remove all the vinyl chloride from the train cars and put them in safe containment containers,” Rocha said. “Then they would have had to dig up tons of soil and monitor and remediate the soil and groundwater.”
The railway company repaired the train tracks, put new gravel on top and started running trains a day after the so-called “controlled” explosion.
Cozza and the hundreds of residents at a town hall organized by Cozza and River Valley Organizing have not been impressed by the railroad company’s efforts to help the city, especially the $1,000 checks, which several residents told The Post were only receive after signing something saying I wouldn’t ask for more.
“I don’t care if you hate me because I hit you years ago or not,” Cozza said at the town meeting under a large sign that read “Make Norfolk Southern Pay!”
“We must put aside all our differences and show the world that we are strong in East Palestine. We are at war with corporate greed. We need accountability and we need answers. We are here to make our city safe. And by the way, we are not say we’re not getting sick, it’s all in our heads. We’re getting sick.”
Cozza’s hearing included a panel with University of Pittsburgh scientists, an environmental attorney and a veteran Ohio hazardous materials expert. None of them painted an optimistic picture of the city’s future, despite Norfolk Southern’s insistence that the area is safe and will be cleaned up and tested further.
Experts listened as desperate residents asked about the safety of breastfeeding their babies and getting water from their wells. Planting season is coming soon in an area where there are many farms. One woman wept as she spoke of her concern for her pregnant goats.
Stephen Lester, a Harvard-educated toxicologist at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice with 40 years of experience, said the hot spot in eastern Palestine was one of the most troubling he had ever seen, stressing the dangers of the chemical dioxin that was found. released during the controlled burn and will be embedded in the soil and water.
“Until the government takes this seriously there are going to be real problems,” Lester said. “It’s criminal that the EPA didn’t come forward with information on dioxin and start testing for it.”
Jason Trosky, a telecommunications project manager, told The Post he’s one of the city’s lucky ones. His mortgage is paid and he has enough money to move his family into an apartment outside the red zone where his house is. He, like many others, worries about people like Shelby Walker and her family, who live in a house just meters from the epicenter of the crash and explosion and can’t afford to move even though they feel sick
“The bad smell comes and goes,” Walker said. “Yesterday was the first day in probably three or four days that I could smell anything. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I had an eye infection in both eyes. I was having trouble breathing like I was out of breath. Other members of my family have had eye infections and pharyngitis.
“Cleaning staff walk past us at night and don’t even look at us. It’s like we don’t exist. No one has contacted us or said anything.”
“We will not be silent,” he said. “We are not weak, but we need support. We are here for the long haul. Trump came here and then he left. What will it do for us, really? We will do it ourselves and we are organizing from the ground up.”