Erin Brockovich Says There's No "Quick Fix" For Ohio Train Derailment
Authored by Jeff Lopuderbeck via The Epoch Times,
On taking the stage in the East Palestine High School auditorium on Feb. 24, environmental activist Erin Brockovich told a crowd mostly composed of local residents dealing with the aftermath of a toxic train derailment she was “here with a message you don’t want to hear but maybe you know.”
“Superman is not coming. Nobody is coming to change what has happened to you, magically fix everything, or give you all of the answers,” Brockovich said. “You will become the strongest advocate you have.
“You have the ability to become—and you will become—your own critical thinker,” Brockovich added.
“You will vet information. You will ask questions. You will demand answers.”
Brockovich cautioned audience members that there will not be a swift resolution to the issues that now impact East Palestine and surrounding communities.
“You want to be heard, but you’re going to be told it’s safe, you’re going to be told not to worry,” Brockovich said.
“That’s just rubbish, because you’re going to worry. Communities want to be seen and heard.
“This is not going to be a quick fix. This is going to be a long game,” she added.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich speaks at a town hall in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 24. (Jeff Louderback/The Epoch Times)
An overflow crowd of more than 2,000 gathered in this village of 4,761 near the Pennsylvania border to hear Brockovich speak, with more than 100 media members covering the event.
Brockovich was joined by water expert Robert W. Bowcock and trial attorney Mikal Watts. They are the principles of East Palestine Justice, an organization of lawyers, environmental activists, and scientific and medical professionals providing assistance to eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania residents affected by the derailment.
On Feb. 3, a 151-car Norfolk Southern Railway freight train derailed in East Palestine.
When the train crashed, 38 rail cars derailed, and a fire ensued which damaged an additional 12 cars, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
“There were 20 total hazardous material cars in the train—11 of which derailed,” according to an NTSB statement.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich (C-R) speaks to concerned residents as she hosts a town hall at East Palestine High School in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 24, 2023. (Michael Swensen/Getty Images)
Fears escalated in the immediate aftermath of the wreck. Seeking to avoid an explosion that officials claimed would send shrapnel into the air, vinyl chloride was intentionally released and burned on Feb. 6, sending a massive cloud of black smoke into the sky that could be seen for miles around and was likened to a mushroom cloud caused by a nuclear weapon.
The burn triggered questions about the health effects that could potentially impact the residents of East Palestine.
Vinyl chloride, a chemical used to make PVC pipes and other products, has received extensive attention as part of the emergency. The National Cancer Institute notes that vinyl chloride has been linked to cancers of the brain, lungs, blood, lymphatic system, and liver.
Other rail cars contained ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, isobutylene, and butyl acrylate, which are all used in the making of plastic products.
Officials from federal and state agencies have repeatedly said that tests show the air and water are safe in East Palestine and surrounding communities. However, residents continue to report headaches, vomiting, burning eyes, skin rashes, and other ailments.
“I’ve never seen anything in 30 years like this and the situation happening in East Palestine,” Brockovich said.
“You all know the story about digging the hole and draining the chemicals in there and lighting it on fire,” she added. “I don’t think that turned out well for anybody.”
Brockovich said she traveled to East Palestine after receiving numerous emails from residents who requested her presence.
“I feel your angst and I feel your frustration. And I want to share something with you: You are not alone,” she said. “It feels like every community I’ve been going to for 30 years gets the same run-around, and you don’t get clear information.
“You own this narrative, not an agency that wasn’t here, and certainly not Norfolk Southern,” Brockovich added. “You know how you feel. You know if you’re sick. You know if you smell something. You know if the water’s a funny color.”
Communities confronted with an environmental disaster can handle the truth, Brockovich added, “but what they can’t handle is being misled and lied to.”
At that moment, the auditorium’s lights turned off, promoting Brockovich to say, “That is how we feel—in the dark—and in the dark, we will continue to talk.”