East Palestine residents pack high school for EPA resource fair

Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 11:22 PM EST
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EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WOIO) - Dozens of East Palestine residents packed the high school gym once again on Thursday for a resource fair hosted by the EPA.

“Without them, we would know nothing so I think the volunteers, the people who come into the city have really helped,” said resident, Sherri Burney. “Everyone’s afraid to drink the water.”

The EPA along with the CDC, Norfolk Southern, local health departments, and the Salvation Army were set up in the school gym. Their goal is to connect residents with resources including financial assistance, healthcare, hotel accommodations, therapy, and private air and well water testing.

“I don’t feel comfortable here and if we had kids which we don’t I wouldn’t feel comfortable having them playing outside I just want to be able to get answers to know what our future is gonna be like here,” said resident Olivia McDonagh.

Kristin Battaglia said her 8-year-old son spent last night in the emergency room. She said his health problems started after the derailment.

“My son was in the ER yesterday for his both nostrils were bleeding for three days straight and he’s very sick,” Battaglia said. “I’m finally able to find the words to even begin to describe what has gone on and what is still going on living here.”

Battaglia said because she lives a little over a mile from the derailment site no one had come to her home to test, but then she met Scott smith.

“He was the first person out of anyone being 1.3 miles away from the derailment site that has come to our home at all,” she said. “I mean even to check on us to give us information. We’ve had no one.”

Scott Smith with Eco Integrated Technologies is donating free soil water and air testing for all East Palestine residents.

“I’ve been in over 60 disasters, and I understand the playbook basically the simple thing is you cannot find what you don’t look for and we are looking for the full spectrum of chemicals,” said Scott Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer for Eco Integrated Technologies.

Mark Durno is the response coordinator for the EPA. He said they’re working to get more answers for residents. After pushback from the public Durno said the EPA is starting a soil testing program where they will be testing for dioxins.

“We should start getting data in sample results in probably in the next week to two weeks and when that happens it’ll better inform the community as to whether or not we have problems,” Durno said.

The EPA will hold another resource fair next Thursday at the East Palestine High School gym.