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    Workers Cleaning Up East Palestine Derailment Are Getting Sick Despite Government Assurances That Everything Is Safe

    March 3, 2023
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    After a train derailment, controlled burn, and an explosion of volatile chemicals last month in East Palestine, Ohio, state and federal officials were quick to assure residents that their air and water were not contaminated, citing water samples that had been tested for pollutants.

    However, as days passed, locals began to complain of headaches and nausea, clear ponds turned rainbow-colored, and dead fish backed up a local creek, while one resident's entire flock of chickens mysteriously died overnight.

    Now, rail employees working to clean up the derailment site are beginning to fall ill with the same symptoms initially reported by residents.

    On Wednesday, leaders of 12 U.S. railroad unions met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Amit Bose, who is the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, to discuss the train derailment, ongoing aftermath, and necessary safety improvements that have been identified as a result of the incident.

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    According to a letter from the unions, Norfolk Southern rail employees who have been working in East Palestine to clean up the massive train derailment have reported experiencing "migraines and nausea." One worker was so bothered by his symptoms that he requested a transfer away from the derailment site, but never received a response from his supervisor and remained at the scene.

    The union letter went on to note that workers are not receiving appropriate personal protective equipment, which should include protective clothing, respirators, and eye protection. Union representatives reported that 35 to 40 workers on the track were not given proper respirators. Instead, they were left struggling to breathe toxic air with only paper and N95 masks for protection. The only other protective items they were provided were boots or coverups and rubber gloves.

    Given the initial lies from the government that the air and water in East Palestine were safe and the fact that President Biden has yet to even visit the city or site of the derailment, there is little hope that anything will be done to address the rail workers' concerns, much less make necessary improvements to train safety going forward. It should also be noted that Buttigieg, whose job it is to handle situations like this, did not visit East Palestine until a day after former President Trump met with residents in a local restaurant.



    Jen Snow

    Jen Snow is a former paralegal turned freelance writer who has a passion for foreign affairs. When not writing, she can be found curled up with her dog and a good book or outside playing in the Florida sun.
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