Ohio East Palestine water announced 'safe', residents express concerns
Although President Biden managed momentarily to quell the railroad workers' demands, the strike is bound to take place after the East Palestine incident.
After the worst ecological disaster hit Ohio, with the train derailment incident that caused a huge fire and the release of the toxic chemical vinyl chloride, Governor Mike DeWine invited evacuated residents to go back to their homes and drink from the polluted water, claiming it is "safe".
Residents of the town of East Palestine were evacuated when the derailment happened due to safety and health reasons. Animals died when the respiratory irritant toxin was largely released into the area.
Less than 2 weeks after the incident took place, Governor Mike DeWine assured the evacuated residents that the municipal water testing showed no sign of contamination.
East Palestine: New water testing results show no detection of contaminants in East Palestine’s municipal water system. With these test results, @OhioEPA is confident that the municipal water is safe to drink.— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) February 15, 2023
An area to which scientists and engineers weren't granted access under the pretext of not putting them "in harm's way" less than 2 weeks ago is now allegedly announced "safe" by the Governor as he invited people to return to their homes.
Rail firm skipping public meeting causes commotion
A public meeting held by impacted residents hoping to voice their concerns to the involved rail company was disappointed when the company decided to pull out from the meeting at the last minute. Hundreds showed up at a high school gymnasium to address the disaster and get the answers they were longing for.
Frustrations mounted as the concerned citizens heard that the rail company chose not to show up, especially because a group of them were facing headache and nausea symptoms and wanted to have them investigated.
Some wanted to investigate the details of the incident itself with its causes and effects. Some wanted to be reimbursed with supplies and money given that they'd been away from their homes. Others wanted to discuss their symptoms as they hold the incident accountable for their health issues.
According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz, 3,500 fish have perished after a train derailed earlier this month and contaminated a river close to the city of East Palestine.
"We have estimated based on our sampling and modeling about 3500 dead fish across that space across those streams, tributaries, waterways," Mertz said during a press conference on Tuesday. "There doesn't appear to be any increase in the fish or aquatic creatures killed since the first couple days of the derailment."
Locals in the East Palestine, Ohio, area are doubtful of US Environmental Protection Agency claims that it is safe to return home, NewsNation reported on Monday.
Since then, locals have reported feeling unwell and have noticed animals becoming ill and fish dying in bodies of water.
US rail workers on strike, Biden reacts with dismissal
US rail labor unions decided by the end of last year to go on strike for a few weeks to raise awareness about the imminent incident and to ratify their national agreement, severely damaging the US economy. With a slight majority voting in favor of the strike, it was bound to take place.
Read more: US rail labor union votes against contract, strike looms
US President Joe Biden signed into law on December 2 a rare congressional intervention forcing rail unions to accept a salary agreement, avoiding a strike that has been called for, for quite some time.
In a brief ceremony at the White House, Biden signed the bill just a week before unions who had rejected the deal were set to strike, threatening critical supply chains across the world's largest economy.
Read more: Congress must intervene to prevent 'devastating' US rail strike: Biden
The agreement provides a significant wage increase, but four of the 12 unions involved refused to accept it because there was no agreement on providing workers with paid sick leave. To settle railroad disputes, Congress used an underutilized power. As he signed the bill, Biden said Congress had "avoided what, without a doubt, would have been an economic catastrophe."