EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — It’s been several months since a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine.
Since then, the residents of this small Ohio town have been working to get their lives back on track.
Tuesday night, dozens of people gathered at the East Palestine Country Club for a community town hall hosted by the Unity Council.
The council, which is made up of residents from affected areas in Ohio and Pennsylvania, declared a list of demands for Gov. Mike DeWine.
First and foremost, they want the governor to declare an emergency in East Palestine.
“My family and I lost our home, all of our belongings and our sense of security as a direct result of the derailment and the burning of toxic chemicals,” said one member of the Unity Council.
In the list of demands, the group is calling for relocation for those who want it, coordinated by the federal government and paid for by Norfolk Southern.
They want the ability for affected residents to hire independent scientists to complete air, water and soil testing and for Norfolk Southern to foot the bill.
“Right now, of course, anyone can do that, but unfortunately as we know, it is a financial constraint,” Unity Council member Hillary Flint said. “This needs to be paid for by Norfolk Southern, and we need to have the choice because we live in a democracy to choose who we want to do that testing.”
The group said they want Norfolk Southern to pay for independent medical testing and care, along with supplying all residents with filtration devices.
“I live at Sulfur Run, it runs right through my backyard,” explained one audience member. “I literally choke on my own blood. I’ve been getting sick and almost passing out every day.”
Residents are also taking issue with how waste is being disposed of and are asking officials to re-evaluate keeping the waste in the community.
“We wish that this didn’t have to go anywhere," Flint said. "We also don’t want it to go right in our backyard. We have already been exposed, and we don’t know what it is going to be like to continue to be exposed and for us to just get hit over and over again.”
The unity council said their work is far from over, and they plan to continue to put pressure on Norfolk Southern and government officials to meet their demands.