Fears of a wider health and environmental disaster are growing, after a 150-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed and a so-called controlled burn released toxic chemicals last week in East Palestine, Ohio. Residents reported seeing a fireball and mushroom cloud of smoke fill the skyline. Data released by the Environmental Protection Agency shows the train contained more toxic and carcinogenic chemicals than initially reported, including phosgene, a poisonous gas that has been used as a chemical weapon in war. Officials lifted an evacuation order for residents last Wednesday, saying the air and water were safe, but residents have reported sore throats, burning eyes, and respiratory problems, and wildlife has been found dead. Meanwhile, scrutiny has turned onto Norfolk Southern, which in recent years has challenged regulatory laws aimed at making the rail industry safer and made mass cuts to railroad staffing while spending billions on stock buybacks and executive compensation. We get an update from Emily Wright, a community organizer based near the site of the derailment; Ross Grooters, a locomotive engineer and co-chair of Railroad Workers United; and Julia Rock, an investigative reporter with The Lever.
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