Erin Brockovich asks Biden to ‘step up’ as people fall sick and animals drop dead after Ohio train derailment

Environmental activist tweets criticism of Biden administration’s reponse to toxic incident

Stuti Mishra
Tuesday 14 February 2023 15:45 GMT
Flames rage from huge fire after train derailment in Ohio

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Erin Brockovich has hit out at Joe Biden and told him to “step up” actions after the train derailment in eastern Ohio and the subsequent release of toxic chemicals has sparked health concerns and left farm animals dropping dead.

The renowned whistleblower, environmental activist, consumer advocate and subject of an Oscar-winning film, said the US president needed to be “more involved”.

Ms Brockovich was referring to the 3 February incident when a train operated by Norfolk Southern Railway derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, causing a major fire near the track.

Among the 50 cars that derailed, 20 were carrying hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, a toxic and flammable gas and phosgene, a gas deployed as a chemical weapon in the First World War.

To avoid an explosion, officials decided to conduct a controlled burn of the hazardous materials on 6 February, which released toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

“Doing better than your predecessor, is not doing enough,” Ms Brockovich tweeted on Monday.

“The Biden administration needs to get more involved in this #PalestineOhio train derailment now. We are counting on you to break the chain of administration after administration to turn a blind eye. STEP UP NOW.”

She also said in another tweet that there needed to be “a massive overhaul of how we do business & how we respect nature”.

More than 2,000 residents were evacuated due to health concerns over the chemical leak, but have since been allowed to return.

Many in the area have complained about feeling unwell and experiencing headaches since the derailment. Some said their farm animals died after the leak, while hundreds of fish were found dead in the nearby Leslie Run stream.

The ecological fallout from the derailment is still being determined 10 days after the disaster, officials said.

Exposure to vinyl chloride is associated with various types of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been closely monitoring the air and drinking quality of the surrounding area. It has reassured residents that the detected chemical levels are below health-screening levels and that it was safe for residents to return home.

Two Pennsylvania residents have sued Norfolk Southern Railway to establish health monitoring for the area around the derailment.

The incident has raised concerns about the safety of transporting hazardous materials through communities and the potential impact on human and environmental health.

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