On Wednesday night, CNN hosted its own town hall meeting in East Palestine. This is one local resident, Jim Stewart, addressing the Norfolk Southern CEO, Alan Shaw.
JIM STEWART: I came home the other day. I put the garage door up. I got — we pulled in the garage, got out of the car, put the garage door down. As soon as we got out of that car, the smell came back to us. Right away, instant headache. You know, I’m 65 years old, a diabetic, AFib heart, heart disease, everything. Now, did you shorten my life now? I want to retire and enjoy it. How are we going to enjoy it? You burned me. We were going to sell our house. Our value went poof. Do I mow the grass? Do I — can I plant tomatoes next summer? What can I do? I’m afraid to. You know, and it’s in the air. Every day I cough, three — a little cough here, a little cough there. I’ve never had that, you know? I got rashes on my cheeks and all of my arms from the derail — I don’t call it a derailment; I call it a disaster.
EMILY WRIGHT: So these people are not only not receiving that, but we have several people that have come out this week to tell us that home health agencies aren’t coming to these homes because they’re worried about being exposed. And we have people that are, you know, bedridden, sick. One person, you know, they asked to remain anonymous, but they have a child that has total care needs. And they can’t get home health to come out and take care of their child. And it’s really been a struggle. So, these are real things happening on the ground.
And as far as, you know, for Alan Shaw, there is nothing that he can say that’s going to make this better, that he’s willing to say, because this is what Norfolk Southern does. They come in. They have these things. They poison us. They keep it — they try to sweep it under the rug. And they think that we’re all just stupid enough here — you know, we’re all just hilljack enough — to sit back. But I can tell you, from the meeting last night, that people are very angry, and they are ready to take action with not only policy changes, but they’re ready to take action and make sure Norfolk Southern really does pay, not just cleans up, not just gives us some money, but they actually pay, because these people have lost everything, their property value. They don’t understand if their homes are safe or not, like he said about mowing his grass, you know, with dioxin that falls on the ground after these things. We had Stephen Lester talking last night at our town hall about this. And, you know, people are scared — they mow their grass — because they’re walking outside or in their homes or sitting on their couches, and they’re noticing that they’re feeling shortness of breath or sick because the particulates are coming up.