While federal and state officials are working overtime to convince East Palestine residents that their air and water are safe following last month’s catastrophic train derailment, evidence in the forests points to another conclusion.
The controversy around East Palestine has only intensified as critics charge that President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg have largely ignored the disaster.
The BBC quoted a total for dead animals around the site reaching 45,000, and that is limited to a five mile radius. That’s a far cry from the initial estimate by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources of 3,500 animals dying.
The Ohio Star reports that tens of thousands of animals have been found dead in the woods and parks surrounding the area. This follows assurances that air monitoring and water safety tests are coming back clear.
The outlet reported a source said her husband, a wildlife biologist and federal forestry consultant, fielded hundreds of calls Sunday and Monday from colleagues worried over the findings.
His peers confirmed that hundreds of dead animals continue to be found in Ohio’s parks.
Furthermore, multiple labs across the country received specimens of the dead animals and found lethal levels of toxic chemicals present. The chemicals are exactly the same ones leaked in the East Palestine derailment.
The source reported that state officials are only using “hand-picked scientists” to get the desired results that are being released to the media.
Now those chemicals are present in massive quantities in areas downriver from the town, including Wayne National Forest and Shawnee National Forest in Ohio.
It was Feb. 3 when 50 Norfolk Southern train carriages derailed just outside of East Palestine. Ten of the rail cars contained hazardous chemicals.
The extremely dangerous situation forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents. Controlled releases of the hazardous chemicals were conducted on Feb. 6 to prevent an explosion.
However, it was just Feb. 8 when residents were told they could return to their homes. This announcement came despite the discovery of hundreds of dead fish in the Ohio River near the town. Residents also complained of headaches and various illnesses in the aftermath of the derailment.
The source told the Star that state officials and the railroad are attempting to block samples from being removed from East Palestine. Access to area forests is also being thwarted by authorities, though scientists have still been able to see evidence of chemical contamination.