East Palestine, Ohio residents have claimed headaches, eye discomfort, and other health issues.
People living near the scene of a toxic railway disaster claim they are frightened to take showers for fear of being contaminated.
It’s been about three weeks since approximately 50 freight cars on a 150-car Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, and the controlled burn of the deadly concoction carried by five of the cars a few days later.
It is believed that the train was transporting vinyl chloride, a highly combustible and carcinogenic substance that can induce dizziness, headaches, sleepiness, and even some malignancies.
According to authorities, more than 1.5 million gallons of pollutants and polluted water have been evacuated from the region since the incident.
Doug Brayshaw, 63, told NBC that he was sitting on his porch when he noticed a black plume of smoke emerging from the derailment scene.
“We’re terrified to shower,” he continued.
“I’m afraid to even offer my dog drinking water from my well right now.”
Amanda Greathouse told CNN that she returned to her house for around 30 minutes before developing a rash, nausea, and “burning” eyes.
“That’s when we decided we couldn’t raise our kids here,” she added.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that it began testing air quality within 24 hours after the derailment and is also assisting in the monitoring of indoor air quality.
Thus far, it has been reported that the concentrations of vinyl chloride and hydrogen chloride discovered are not beyond the levels of concern.
Yet the 4,700 East Palestinians are still concerned; there have been reports of headaches, sore eyes, and other concerns since the accident.
‘Increased cancer risk’
“The statistics on cancer risk from a single high dose is not good,” said Ila Cote, a former EPA toxicologist.
“Therefore, it would be safe to say that persons who had been heavily exposed to vinyl chloride would have an increased risk of cancer.”
“If a well is safe right now, we don’t know what the quality of that water is going to be after a week, a month, or two months,” Mo Osman, who operates a lab hired by the county to analyse its water samples, told NBC.
“Since pollution takes time to move from the source of contamination to the individual well, it is critical to maintain sampling at a particular frequency.”
‘Have a good time, everyone.’
Donald Trump, who is running for president next year, was in town on Wednesday and used the occasion to criticise the federal government’s reaction to the disaster.
“In too many cases, your compassion and perseverance were met with disdain and betrayal,” he told people.
Mr Trump stopped at a McDonald’s to hand out caps, ordered lunches for emergency workers, and picked up food for his return flight.
He signed autographs and distributed cleaning supplies and Trump-branded bottled water to individuals concerned about the safety of their tap water before encouraging fans, “Have fun, everybody.”
Mr Trump expressed hope that US President Joe Biden would have “some money left over” for residents of East Palestine after his trip to Ukraine this week.
In reaction, the White House chastised Mr Trump for failing to do enough as president to strengthen rail and environmental regulations.
The train operator will not be let go.
Meanwhile, EPA Administrator Michael Regan, who visited the scene last week, warned that Norfolk Southern would be held accountable for the derailment’s damage.
“Let me be clear: Norfolk Southern will pay for cleaning up the mess they made and for the anguish they’ve caused in this community,” he added.
“In no way will Norfolk Southern escape responsibility for the disaster they created.”
“We accept responsibility,” said Norfolk Southern’s chief financial officer, Mark George. We are completely committed to making things right.
“We’re in it for the long haul.”