Erin Brockovich Responds to Ohio Train Fire: ‘Trust Your Eyes’ and Get ’Out of There’

Erin Brockovich Responds to Ohio Train Fire: ‘Trust Your Eyes’ and Get ’Out of There’
A black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk Southern trains, on Feb. 6, 2023. (Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo)
Jack Phillips

Erin Brockovich, the consumer advocate made famous by the eponymous movie, said that she is attempting to gather information about the derailment and train fire that prompted the evacuation of the village of East Palestine, Ohio

“I’m trying to gather information on this very serious situation in Ohio involving a train derailment with hazardous chemicals,” Brockovich wrote on Twitter over the past weekend. “What I will say is this. Trust your eyes, ears and nose and get the hell out of there if your senses are telling you too.”

On Monday afternoon, Brockovich—who was the subject of the 2000 Academy Award-winning film “Erin Brockovich”—called on the federal government to be more transparent.

“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 wrote.

Earlier this month, a train with about four-dozen freight cars heading from Illinois to Pennsylvania derailed in East Palestine, sparking state officials to issue an evacuation of the area amid a “controlled release,” meaning burning, of toxic materials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that the train was carrying hazardous materials, including the highly toxic vinyl chloride.

So far, there have been some reports from local residents of animals dying off, including fish, chickens, and livestock. One local official confirmed there was a fish die-off in waterways around East Palestine.

“Leslie Run comes out of East Palestine and that goes into Bull Creek, which then goes into North Fork. And we know for sure that there has been some fish kill in Leslie Run and Bull Creek, and some portions of the North Fork,” Matthew Smith, assistant regional scenic river manager for the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, told WTDN.
The Epoch Times has contacted the EPA, Department of Transportation, and several other federal agencies for comment. Few federal officials have made mention of the derailment and toxic fire, while Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg did not reference the incident on Monday morning.

On Sunday, the EPA issued an update to its website, posting a document from train operator Norfolk Southern that confirmed it was carrying more chemicals. Glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene were also in the rail cars that were either on fire, derailed, or breached.

“EPA was initially informed orally of the contents of derailed cars in order to develop a plan for air monitoring. Upon request, Norfolk Southern provided the attached list detailing the rail cars that may have derailed in the incident,” the update said. “This was created by Norfolk Southern and EPA cannot speak to the design or creation of this document.”
Erin Brockovich as seen in a 2007 file photo. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
Erin Brockovich as seen in a 2007 file photo. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Amid reports of animals dying off and locals saying they’ve suffered from respiratory problems in recent days, the EPA said that it is continuing to monitor the air quality around East Palestine.

“Air monitoring since the fire went out has not detected any levels of concern in the community that can be attributed to the incident at this time. For example, there have been some exceedances of PM2.5 screening values, but those are both upwind and downwind of the derailment site so likely had another cause,” said the EPA’s update.

A reporter with the Washington Post interviewed several East Palestine residents who were evacuated and later returned. One woman, Maura Todd, indicated that she and her family suffered from nausea and headaches, adding that she’s planning on moving to Kentucky.

Another local man, Taylor Howzer, told WKBN that some of his animals became ill in recent days.

“Out of nowhere, he just started coughing really hard, just shut down, and he had liquid diarrhea and just went very fast,” Holzer said. “Smoke and chemicals from the train, that’s the only thing that can cause it, because it doesn’t just happen out of nowhere,” he added. “The chemicals that we’re being told are safe in the air, that’s definitely not safe for the animals … or people.”

And a woman in North Lima said some of her chickens have died after the burning was initiated.

“My video camera footage shows my chickens were perfectly fine before they started this burn, and as soon as they started the burn, my chickens slowed down and they died,” Amanda Breshears of North Lima, Ohio, told local outlet ABC27. “If it can do this to chickens in one night, imagine what it’s going to do to us in 20 years.”

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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