Erin Brockovich addresses East Palestine residents: ‘You’re going to be told it’s safe’

Activist Erin Brockovich spoke to an overflow crowd in East Palestine, Ohio, weeks after a Norfolk Southern train derailment rocked the small town.

“You want to be heard, but you’re going to be told it’s safe, you’re going to be told not to worry,” said Brockovich in front of more than 2,000 people in the town of 4,700. “That’s just rubbish, because you’re going to worry. Communities want to be seen and heard.”

Local and national politicians, along with leaders at Norfolk Southern, have said for weeks that the water and air in East Palestine are safe. Several politicians, including EPA honcho Michael Regan, drank from the water on their visits to the town less than a mile from the Pennsylvania border.

But residents remain concerned, pointing to the thousands of dead fish and unnatural, chlorine-tinged smells in the air.

“The truth is pretty scary,” 29-year-old East Palestine mother Brooke Hofmeister said.

On Feb. 3, 38 train cars derailed in East Palestine. Five of the cars were carrying the toxic chemical vinyl chloride, which is used to manufacture plastics and can cause cancer.

Days after the crash, officials feared an explosion and conducted a “controlled release” of the vinyl chloride. Norfolk Southern, under threat of significant EPA fines, agreed to pay for the clean-up.

Brockovich visited the town Friday with a group of attorneys and experts. Several East Palestine residents have already filed lawsuits. Brockovich gained international fame after her lengthy scientific and legal battle with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. over groundwater contamination in California was turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts.

“Don’t expect somebody to give you the answers,” she said Friday. “Unfortunately, this is not a quick fix. This is going to be a long game.”

With News Wire Services