East Palestine, Ohio: Residents of the Ohio village upended by a freight train derailment packed a school gym to seek answers about whether they were safe from toxic chemicals that spilled or were burned off.
Hundreds of worried people gathered Wednesday in East Palestine, near the Pennsylvania state line, to hear state officials insist yet again that testing shows local air is safe to breathe so far and promise that air and water monitoring would continue.
With the community in the national spotlight, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan is slated to visit Thursday to assess the ongoing response and hear from impacted residents.
Those attending Wednesday’s informational session, which was originally billed as a town hall meeting, had many questions over health hazards, and they demanded more transparency from railroad operator Norfolk Southern, which did not attend, citing safety concerns for its staff.
“They just danced around the questions a lot,” said Danielle Deal, who lives a few miles from the derailment site. “Norfolk needed to be here.”
In a statement, Norfolk Southern said it didn’t attend alongside local, state and federal officials because of a “growing physical threat to our employees and members of the community around this event.”