CONTACT: Sasha Tenenbaum
Senior Manager, Media and Public Engagement
On Thursday, March 9, 2023, at 10:00 AM ET, the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) will hold a full committee hearing on addressing the environmental and public health threats from the Norfolk Southern train derailment and chemical release in East Palestine, Ohio. In response, Moms Clean Air Force Director and Co-Founder Dominique Browning released the following statement:
“We commend Congress and the EPW committee for carrying out its oversight role and investigating the government response to the train derailment in East Palestine, but we must remember that petrochemical pollution is an ongoing threat. Families in East Palestine—and elsewhere—are regularly exposed to, and at risk of, dangerous chemicals entering the air they breathe and the water they drink. It’s important that we hear from the residents of these communities. Six women whose lives have been changed by petrochemical disasters will attend the hearing and will be available after the hearing to share their stories.
“The root cause of the derailment in East Palestine was not the Civil-War-era brakes, not the dangerous speeds, not the fact that we have 1.7-mile long trains with a crew of only two—though these things are important.
“The root cause of the disaster is our reckless production of plastics, which are made from extraordinarily toxic industrial chemicals, such as benzene, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, chloroprene, PFAS, and vinyl chloride.
“The petrochemical industry has gotten away with massive assaults on the health and wellbeing of generations of people on the Gulf Coast. The children of the Gulf Coast, where we tolerate a sacrifice zone cruelly referred to as “Cancer Alley,” are suffering from leukemia at far higher rates than anywhere else in the United States.
“In addition, there is a rapid expansion of the petrochemical industry buildout in the Ohio River Valley. Less than fifteen miles from the Palestine derailment, the Shell petrochemical facility in Beaver County, Pennsylvania has already exceeded its allowable pollution limits for the year–in its first one hundred days of operation.
“The damage that has been inflicted by the petrochemical industry is a disgrace to this country and to the agencies that are mandated by law to protect peoples’ health.
“Moms Clean Air Force calls on Congress to hold accountable the polluters and the companies that run “train bombs” through our neighborhoods. These companies should be paying the entire cost of cleanup, and providing ongoing support and health care for those who have been exposed to their carcinogenic chemicals throughout their lives. Comprehensive testing of the soil, water and air along with medical monitoring is due to all East Palestine residents so they can feel safe in their own homes.
“Moms Clean Air Force calls on the EPA and the Department of Justice to crack down on the flagrant abuses of the petrochemical industry and to strengthen protections from petrochemical pollution.
“We call on President Biden to use the executive powers of his office to rein in plastics production pollution and to protect communities from petrochemical production, transport, and incineration.”