View of East Palestine weeks after a Norfolk Southern train derailment released various toxic chemicals resulting in effecting air and ground quality weeks ago. A town hall meeting spearheaded by East Palestine Justice, lawyer Mikal Watts and, lending her support, Erin Brockovich is slated to happen today, March 2, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.
Anxiety still looms over East Palestine one month after train derailment
04:38 - Source: CNN
East Palestine, Ohio CNN  — 

This had been a quiet little town of about 4,700 people nestled in the rolling hills of Northeast Ohio. A sign posted on State Road 14 welcomes visitors to East Palestine, “the place to be.”

But for the past month, ever since a freight train derailed and caught fire, the town has been bustling with responders and reporters. Residents say they’re grateful for the help, but the attention and uncertainty have begun to strain the town’s hospitality.

Town halls and news conferences have taken over the school auditoriums and municipal buildings and shut down its main street. A clinic opened to address worrisome health questions and symptoms, and government workers have been going door-to-door to survey residents about health impacts.

Gov. Mike DeWine has traveled to East Palestine four times since the derailment and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan three times, each with entourages of aides and press wranglers. Some business owners near the downtown area are so tired of answering questions, they posted signs asking reporters to stay out.

The streets are busy with utility trucks for environmental clean-up companies TetraTech, Arcadis and AEComm. Plastic hoses snake into Leslie Run and Sulphur Run, two creeks that run through town that were contaminated by the accident. Large pieces of equipment that look like showerheads churn and bubble the water in these streams, hoping to speed the breakdown of chemicals in them.

Still, the floral, fruity odor of the chemical butyl acrylate still wafts up from the streams.

Many residents say they are angry.

Donna Reidy, 62, lives about a mile and a half away from the site in a white house on a hill that overlooks Leslie Run, one of the area waterways contaminated by the spill. On Thursday, she answered questions for a government health study that’s being conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reidy said that neither she or her husband – who has lung problems and requires supplemental oxygen – experienced any new or worsening physical symptoms since the derailment. However, her daughter, who also lives in East Palestine, had, she told investigators.

Reidy said her daughter had to gone to the hospital after vomiting and developing a rash. Donna said the stress of trying to protect her husband and worry for her daughter had worsened some anxiety she already struggled with, and she’s afraid of health problems that could arise later on.

“I’ve already had cancer, I don’t want to get it again,” she told Dr. Dallas Shi, an officer in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, as they stood in the front yard outside her home.

For the study, called an assessment of chemical exposure, or ACE, Shi is working with a mapping specialist Ian Dunn, a geospatial health scientist and CDC contractor, to interview residents in some of the areas believed to be most impact