Ohio residents suffering chemical spill furious after rail company skips town hall
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, are continuing to speak out about the health effects they’re experiencing after toxic chemicals were released in their community in early February.
A Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride, benzene and butyl acrylate derailed, forcing officials to burn the roughly 20 cars to prevent a deadly explosion.
Community members, whose names were not provided, spoke with “Jesse Watters Primetime” at a Wednesday town hall and shared their concerns about the chemical fallout.
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One woman said she has been feeling lightheaded since the incident.
“… a little lightheaded, and my lips did get all tingly yesterday when we went to clean up the house. It smells terrible up around the house, and there is black residue on the pictures [and] surface stuff,” she said.
A man said he went to the hospital and had to have an EKG to make sure he wasn’t having a heart attack, and another woman said she “vomits” within 10 minutes of being in her home.
“The air is still terrible — absolutely terrible,” she said. “I will not take my children in there because of that… burning of the eyes, trouble breathing, and then I just get nauseous within 10 minutes,” she said. “My husband popped in to try to get anything, you know, phone charger, things that they say are safe, [but] you cannot get the smell out. That does not come out.”
She added that her children’s friends reportedly have rashes from the chemicals.
“My daughter was one that also had that real bad — looks almost like a sunburn.”
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, whose district includes East Palestine, spoke out about Norfolk Southern’s decision not to attend the town hall to address residents’ concerns.
“People are very frustrated. People are angry. They came here for answers and they’re legitimately frustrated that the company that caused this accident is not here to be accountable,” he told host Jesse Watters.
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The railroad company released a statement hours before the event was scheduled to begin, citing threats to employees’ safety as a reason why it would not be in attendance.
“Unfortunately, after consulting with community leaders, we have become increasingly concerned about the growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event stemming from the increasing likelihood of the participation of outside parties,” the statement read.
“We want to continue our dialogue with the community and address their concerns, and our people will remain in East Palestine, respond to this situation, and meet with residents. We are not going anywhere. We are committed to East Palestine and will continue to respond to community concerns through our Family Assistance Center and our hotline for citizens to ask questions regarding return to home and health questions.”
Johnson promised to hold the company accountable, saying if any residents weren’t able to ask a question at the town hall, he would take it directly to Norfolk Southern.
“I am here, and I’m going to stay here,” Johnson said.
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