President Joe Biden and his administration have faced sharp criticism over their handling of the Feb. 3 toxic train derailment and subsequent spillage and burning of hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals near East Palestine, Ohio — especially the “all-clear” announcement just days after the accident that encouraged evacuated residents to return to the likely still contaminated area.
Now numerous East Palestinians are reportedly experiencing various health problems and an independent study of official data revealed the continued presence of elevated levels of certain air pollutants that can pose long-term health risks, the Daily Caller reported.
That has led a growing number of residents and their supporters to now question the wisdom of some of the decisions made by federal and state officials, from the initial burning of the leaked hazardous chemicals to the Environmental Protection Agency’s insistence that it was safe for the evacuated people to return to their homes.
Developing and lingering health problems
The New York Post reportedly recently on the East Palestine residents who are experiencing symptoms of health issues potentially linked to exposure to the dangerous chemicals released by the derailment incident and the efforts by some to raise awareness about the problems.
One example is a man named Wade Lovett, who said, “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.”
“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,” he added.
Another example is a woman named Shelby Walker, whose family lives in a home near the derailment site and is too poor to move, and they have complained of persistent eye infections, respiratory issues, strep throat, and a general loss of their sense of smell and taste.
Hazardous materials experts and scientists have been brought in to listen to complaints and share their wisdom with the community, and they have expressed alarm and concern about the likelihood of certain dangerous chemicals being present in the soil and water and the risks they pose to the health of residents and their families and animals, be they livestock or pets.
In the meantime, hundreds of residents have joined a class-action lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, the company that owned and operated the derailed train, in search of accountability for what occurred.
Independent study contradicts EPA claims
The evacuation order had been lifted on Feb. 8, just five days after the initial derailment and only two to three days after the “controlled burn” of the highly toxic chemicals, and the EPA has insisted that its tests show that everything was fine and there is no “short-term” risk of exposure-related health problems, according to The Washington Post.
However, a special team of researchers at Texas A&M University independently studied the data collected by the EPA and concluded that there were still dangerously high levels of certain air pollutants and chemicals that could pose “long-term health concerns” and cause symptoms like headaches, eye and lung irritation, and sore throats, among other things — the same sort of symptoms many East Palestine residents have complained of.
The EPA has rejected that study of its collected data, quibbled with the manner in which it was conducted, dismissed the concerns raised by the researchers, and stuck by its original assessment that the area surrounding the derailment site was safe for residents.
Where is Biden?
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has continued to refuse to visit the derailment site in eastern Ohio, federal assistance to residents has been minimal amid the environmental disaster, and Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg — who is in charge of the nation’s railroad system — only begrudgingly visited the scene this week after the administration was upstaged by a visit a day earlier from former President Donald Trump, who brought donated bottled water and cleaning supplies for residents.
None of those visits really matter that much to the concerned residents of East Palestine — though they certainly appreciate the donated supplies — as they are seeking answers to their many questions and concerns and not just empty platitudes and false reassurances from bureaucrats and politicians.