Residents of the East Palestine, Ohio, village where a Norfolk Southern train derailed earlier this month, report being given contracts to sign releasing an air quality testing company from liability.
The disastrous Feb. 3 derailment led to the release of toxic chemicals such as vinyl chloride, hydrogen chloride, phosgene — an agent used in World War I chemical warfare — ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene.
The Environmental Protection Agency-affiliated organization conducted air monitoring tests in area homes.
An individual with the environmental consulting firm CTEH LLC distributed release forms authorizing Norfolk Southern and others to test the homes “for air monitoring.”
The paperwork said the “Landowner agrees to indemnify, release, and hold harmless Unified Command from and against any and all legal claims, including for personal injury or property damage, arising from Monitoring Team’s performance of air monitoring or environmental sampling.”
East Palestine resident Katlyn Schwarzwaelder lives near the epicenter of the ecological disaster. She told radio host and Blaze co-founder Glenn Beck that the individual getting the release forms signed described his company’s role in an interesting manner.
No protests. No Greta. No Biden. No AOC. No Al Gore.
Where are the so called environmentalists for East Palestine?pic.twitter.com/7yedUI4EyJ
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) February 14, 2023
He reportedly explained that “we follow around the railroad when they make mistakes and they are happy to have us here.”
Schwarzwaelder said she refused to sign the form but believed that approximately 340 other residents did sign. It is unclear how much of their legal recourse the East Palestine citizens were signing away, and there is no way to currently assess the long-term effects of the chemical releases.
Increasing tensions between the railroad company and the local populace, a Wednesday town hall meeting at the local high school proved to be a disappointment. Hundreds of residents showed up to voice their concerns, but Norfolk Southern backed out of the public meeting.
Now comes word that unsuspecting individuals may have signed away their legal rights. Potential injuries and damages are almost completely unknown at this point, yet liability waivers are being distributed.
There are far more questions than answers coming from this tragic situation in Ohio. With untold numbers of animals dying and people being sickened, it is time for responsible government leaders to step in and address these questions.