U.S. NewsDERAILED: Disaster in East Palestine


Residents demand answers from officials after Ohio train derailment

Unsure if their water or air is safe, area residents unloaded on public officials during a town hall meeting in East Palestine.
Posted at 9:49 AM, Feb 16, 2023

Hundreds of worried residents filed around the block, waiting outside the local high school in East Palestine, Ohio, for a meeting to get answers about the toxic train wreck that's upended their village on the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. 

"I want assurances we're being taken seriously, that the water is safe," said Darlington, Pennsylvania, resident Elissa Phillips.

"I've lived here 30 years, but I'm getting out of Dodge," said East Palestine resident Barbara Georgescu.

Wearing a spray paint respirator, Georgescu says she's not confident in state officials' reassurances that the air is safe to breathe.  

"Beaver, Columbiana, East Palestine, wasn't clean before this happened. But now it's worse," Georgescu continued.

Families wondering if well water is safe after Ohio train derailment

Families wondering if well water is safe after Ohio train derailment

The Ohio EPA said it has not seen anything at this point to suggest private wells would be impacted, but East Palestine residents aren't so sure.


In the high school gym, the mayor encouraged residents to get information from separate environmental and health agencies, as well as from public officials who were present. 

The event wasn't originally a town forum, but tension quickly surfaced and it turned into one.

Residents, unsure if their water or air is safe, unloaded on public officials. The mayor told reporters the Norfolk Southern rail company was a no-show.

"I need help," Mayor Trent Conaway said. "I wasn't built for this. I wasn't ready for this."

Conaway has been dealing with the fallout of Feb. 3, when about 50 rail cars derailed. The fiery, mangled mess outside of East Palestine caused mass evacuation and forced a tough choice by the state on the town to conduct a controlled burn of the hazardous materials from five cars.

"We either detonate those tanks or they detonate themselves," Conaway continued. "This option, yes, harmful chemicals went in the air. I am truly sorry, but that is the only option we had. If we didn't do that, then they were gonna blow up and we were gonna throw shrapnel all across this town." 

Norfolk Southern pledges support for Ohio town after derailment

Norfolk Southern pledges support for Ohio town after derailment

Drinking water and air quality tests are underway in East Palestine, Ohio after a Norfolk Southern trainwreck.


Harmful chemicals like vinyl chloride burned into the air, officials adding poisonous butyl acrylate spilled into the water, causing fish to die. 

"And now I don't want to go to my home, because I don't feel safe; because I don't want to bring my children here," said mother of two, Courtney Fish.

Fish lives less than a mile from the blast site. The train line runs through her backyard. She pointed out discoloration in the creek water behind her house, where toxic runoff is.

She worries the water coming out of the taps in her house isn't safe to use. "I was drinking it prior to [the accident]. I was cooking with it. But now, I'm afraid to even shower with it because if there's some kind of acid or stuff in there, is it going to get absorbed in my skin?" Fish said.

State officials are monitoring water and air, saying the levels are within safety. But the cleanup is ongoing; the effects of the disaster still being felt.