After the hazardous train disaster earlier this month, residents of East Palestine, Ohio provided a bleak report on their deteriorating health.
Locals in the little village, where a Norfolk Southern train derailed on February 3 creating a following hazardous explosion, claim they are now having troubling symptoms, the New York Post reported.
“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,” said 40-year-old Wade Lovett.
Lovett now has a high-pitched voice that sounds as though he’s been inhaling helium.
‘My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse,” he said.
“My normal voice is low,” Lovett explains.
“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.”
According to the Post, 46-year-old Jami Cozza, a lifetime East Palestinian with 47 close relatives in the area, is leading the struggle for the community.
In the words of a scientist who visited the region on Thursday, their hamlet has become the new “Love Canal” — a reference to a suburb in Niagara Falls, New York, that became a hot-button issue in 1978 when residents grew ill from living atop a toxic waste dump.
In addition to mysterious rashes and sore throats, several homeowners who returned to their homes on February 8 following the removal of evacuation orders have also reported mysterious rashes.
“Yesterday was the first day in probably three or four days that I could smell anything,” said Shelby Walker, who lives a few yards from the epicenter of the crash and explosion.
“I lost my smell and my sense of taste.
“I had an eye infection in both eyes.
“I was having respiratory issues like I was just out of breath.
“Other members of my family have had eye infections and strep throat.
“The cleanup crew drives past us at night and won’t even look at us.
“It’s like we don’t exist. No one has reached out to us or told us anything.”
According to an independent examination of EPA data by Texas A&M University released on Friday, nine air contaminants were discovered around East Palestine at levels that might cause long-term health risks.
“My fiancé was so sick that I almost took him to the hospital,” Jami Cozza told the Post.
“Not only am I fighting for my family’s life, but I feel like I’m fighting for the whole town’s life.
“When I’m walking around hearing these stories, they’re not from people.
“They’re from my family,” she said.
“They’re from my friends that I’ve have grown up with.
“People are desperate right now. We’re dying slowly.
“They’re poisoning us slowly.“
According to a class-action complaint filed on behalf of hundreds of homeowners, Norfolk Southern “went rogue” when, three days after the incident, it decided to detonate five train cars holding the lethal chemical vinyl chloride.
The complaint asserts that about 1,100,000 pounds of the toxin were released and then burnt.
Norfolk Southern claims they conferred with specialists and Republican Governor Mike DeWine prior to the controlled burn.
The business stated that the controlled burn was conducted to prevent “catastrophic failure of the cars.”
“What they could have done and should have done is remove all the vinyl chloride from the train cars and put them in secure containment vessels,” said Rene Rocha of the Morgan & Morgan law firm, one of the lead attorneys on the class-action case.
“They then should have excavated tons of soil and monitored and remediated the soil and groundwater.”
Panelists in Cozza’s hearing included scientists from the University of Pittsburgh, an environmental attorney, and a seasoned Ohio hazardous materials specialist.
Despite Norfolk Southern’s assertion that the region is safe and would be thoroughly cleaned and tested, no one presented a positive image of the town’s future.
Experts listened as residents in desperation inquired about the safety of nursing their infants and drinking water from their wells.
The planting season will soon arrive in a region with several farms.
According to the Post, a woman shed tears as she described her concern for her pregnant goats.
According to Harvard-trained toxicologist Stephen Lester, the East Palestine hot zone is one of the “most concerning” he’s ever seen, and he warns that the chemical dioxin that was released during the controlled burn will get ingrained in the soil and water.
“Until the government takes this seriously there are going to be real problems,” said Lester.
“It’s criminal that the EPA didn’t come forward with information about dioxin and start testing for it.”