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East Palestine, Ohio sits directly on the border of Pennsylvania. It’s just feet away. So, anything significant that happens there in East Palestine, say a toxic mushroom cloud rising thousands of feet over the town, is certain to affect the state next door and that’s why three days after a train derailed there, spilling a great volume of dangerous chemicals onto the ground and into the water. Josh Shapiro, the governor of Pennsylvania, held a press conference about it.
Shapiro announced that authorities had decided to set those chemicals on fire and that was a very good thing. No one should be unduly alarmed. The burning of these chemicals, Shapiro said, had gone “as planned.” Officials on the scene, meanwhile, declared the burn “perfect.” Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, agreed with all of this. The people in charge, the railroad’s engineers and the state officials overseeing them had everything under control.
So, two days later, evacuation orders for residents were officially lifted, both in East Palestine and over the border in Pennsylvania. That was last week. In the subsequent days, a lot of people have wondered out loud, was it really a wise decision to light thousands of gallons of vinyl chloride on fire, releasing a World War I era bioweapon into the air over a populated area? Was that a good call? Was it really safe, two days later, for people to go back to their homes? If it was safe, how do we know that? Is anyone in charge actually monitoring with any accuracy the level of deadly chemicals in the air, ground, in the water, in and around East Palestine?
OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT: GOV. MIKE DEWINE SAYS IT’S ‘ABSURD’ CARGO WASN’T CONSIDERED ‘HIGH HAZARDOUS MATERIAL’
Well, no, apparently nobody is and that’s highly upsetting when you think about it. Talk about a failure at all levels. The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. So, it’s bad and it’s very bad news for reckless politicians like Josh Shapiro and Mike DeWine, who may have helped make this disaster much worse. So tonight, both DeWine and Shapiro are desperately trying to revise their previous statements about the so-called controlled burn. Both have now decided that the toxic mushroom cloud over East Palestine, the one they signed off on and endorsed on television, was actually a bad thing. It didn’t go as planned. It wasn’t perfect and both governors have now identified the villain here, not as themselves. No, of course not, but it’s the railroad Norfolk Southern. Both are considering lawsuits against the company.
In an act of amazingly brazen butt-covering Josh Shapiro even wrote a letter to the White House and the Transportation Department claiming that Norfolk Southern was “unwilling to explore or articulate alternative courses of action to their proposed vent and burn.” It was very obvious, he says, that there was probably a “safer all overall approach for first responders, residents and the environment.” That was very obvious. They just never said anything about it. It’s remarkable and for the record, we are not defending Norfolk Southern here. We’re only pointing out that Norfolk Southern had this strong endorsement of Josh Shapiro and Mike DeWine when it set those chemicals on fire and caused the mushroom cloud and by the way, the Biden administration endorsed it, too.
According to Pete Buttigieg, Biden officials were on the scene, yet somehow they never said a word about the mushroom cloud until pictures of it evoked outrage on social media and, of course, they didn’t. They didn’t even notice. It had nothing to do with equity or climate change. East Palestine is a poor, White town that voted for Trump. So honestly, who cares? No one in the Biden administration did care and that’s an atrocity. The people whose indifference made it possible should lose their jobs, beginning with Pete Buttigieg and extending to governors Josh Shapiro and Mike DeWine. They didn’t care and they got caught not caring. Even tonight, Mike DeWine clearly still doesn’t care. Here he is insisting everything’s fine.
OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT: MIKE DEWINE ASSURES AIR, VILLAGE WATER ARE SAFE FOLLOWING TOXIC CHEMICAL SPILL
REPORTER: So, if it were your family, governor, you’d be OK sending everybody back home?
DEWINE: Yeah. Look, I mean, we indicated that. We’re going to continue to test the air. We’re going to continue to test the water, but what that is indicating is that it is very, very safe.
“Yes, we indicated that.” Kind of a clinical response and a dishonest one, because of course, Mike DeWine is not living in East Palestine and there’s no chance of that ever. Animals in East Palestine are dying by the thousands and you don’t need to be a chemist to know that’s not a good thing. The town has been poisoned.
NBC: Residents worry about what’s still on the air, soil and water of their rural community.
WOMAN: Don’t tell me it’s safe. Something’s going on if the fish are floating in the creek.
NBC: Ohio officials confirming some 3,500 fish died in local waters in the days after the derailment, but insist extensive testing shows there’s no threat to other wildlife or humans. They say there’s only anecdotal evidence of residents getting sick and no confirmed connection to the hazardous chemicals aboard the train.
Oh, there’s only anecdotal evidence also called observed reality. Maybe Tony Fauci will show up soon to lecture us about the science. Amanda Breshears will probably not listen. She lives there ten miles from East Palestine in Lima, Ohio. She says that even at Waimea, rather, at that distance, burning chemicals smell like chlorine and hurt her eyes and she also says her chickens and this is not a good sign, no matter what they say, are dying without explanation.
BRESHEARS: So I walked up to the cage and this. This is what I found.
WKBN: Amanda Breshears was going to feed her five hens and rooster this morning when she discovered them all lifeless, practically in the same position with no signs of a predator entering their enclosure.
BRESHEARS: I’m beyond upset and quite panicked because this they may be just chickens, but they’re family.
WKBN: Breshears says her chickens were alive, and while yesterday. She believes the smell following the detonation of the train carrying chemicals that derailed in East Palestine is to blame for her birds’ sudden death.
BRESHEARS My video camera footage shows my chickens were perfectly fine before they started this burn and as soon as they started to burn, my chickens slowed down and they died. If it can do this to chickens in one night, imagine what it’s going to do to us in 20 years.
OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT: CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST NATIONAL REPORTER COVERING SMALL TOWN’S ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
So as always, if you want to know what people really think, ignore what they say. Words are cheap and people lie. Watch what they do. Mike DeWine may say it’s safe to be in East Palestine, but you’ll notice he’s not spending the night there. One woman who does live there noticed that federal officials, while assuring everybody everything was fine, were wearing hazmat suits.
WOMAN: When you watch people that are investigating, they all have these giant hazmat suits on, but somehow, it’s safe for people to go back to these homes. They only evacuated a mile, a mile out-ish. Anybody outside of that, you’re kind of on your own. If you want to leave, you can leave. If you want to drink bottled water, go for it, buy it if you want to, but it’s all on our own dime and this is caused by, you know, a company who makes billions of dollars and we’re forgotten about.
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So, the people who live there obviously want some answers. It’s totally safe, says the guy in the hazmat suit. Residents of East Palestine together gathered for a town hall. The mayor has just told residents that he has not heard from anyone in the White House, didn’t until yesterday, when it started to become a political liability for them. The mayor also said he has no idea where Pete Buttigieg is tonight.