Erin Brokovich calls for more answers after Ohio train derailment
▶ Watch Video: Environmental advocate Erin Brokovich warns of train derailment aftereffects at Ohio town hall
Erin Brokovich, a well-known environmental advocate, is adding her voice to the growing chorus of those calling for answers after a Norfolk Southern train derailed in Ohio earlier in February.
Thirty-eight cars on the 151-car train derailed, including several cars containing chemicals like vinyl chloride. Eventually, the decision was made to evacuate people within a two-mile radius and do a controlled release and burn of the vinyl chloride. Since then, residents of the small town of East Palestine have reported ailments like burning throats, skin rashes and bronchitis.
Officials including the Environmental Protection Agency have said they have not recorded harmful levels of chemicals in the air, and local and state leaders have said the town’s water supply is safe to drink from, there have been reports of up to 43,700 area animals dying. Norfolk Southern has also removed 15,000 tons of contaminated soil and over one million gallons of water.
Brokovich addressed residents of East Palestine at a town hall on Friday night, saying that she had seen “the same runaround” in “every community” she had gone to since making national headlines in the 1990s for suing a utility provider for contaminating her California town’s drinking water.
Brokovich told CBS News that she understands the fear and frustration of East Palestine residents.
“They’re worried, because they’ve got coughs and respiratory problems,” she said. “There’s so many unanswered questions, and they know this isn’t the last of this conversation.”
Brokovich added that she would advise residents to “stay tuned” to themselves and their environment.
This isn’t the first time Brokovich has addressed the situation in Ohio. On Feb. 17, two weeks after the derailment, she questioned the decision to allow residents to return home so soon, reading a Feb. 10 letter from the EPA to Norfolk Southern that said chemicals were “known to have been or continue to be released to the air, surface soils and surface water.”
Evacuated East Palestine residents were told it was safe to return home on Feb. 8.
“There is so much confusion … Reading something like this, I will tell you I would certainly feel uncomfortable and not safe,” Brokovich said on CBS News.