EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Residents of East Palestine are firing back after an optimistic follow-up report by Norfolk Southern three months after the toxic train derailment.
"We value this town. We value the people in the town. They've been very receptive of us, bringing us great ideas of how we can bring this town back where they need to be," Norfolk Southern's East Palestine liaison said in a pre-recorded press package.
The package was sent by the PR company working for Norfolk Southern marking three months since the train derailment and subsequent release of toxic chemicals in East Palestine.
One resident paints a much different reality of current conditions.
"So my family and I are going on month three of living in a hotel. We've been evacuated since the derailment, we don't really have any more answers than we started with to be honest. I feel like there's a lot of vague, generic promises and that's about it," Zsuzsa Gyenes said.
According to Norfolk Southern's released statistics on the progress it says it's made in the cleanup, the company claims it has helped 8,300 families through its assistance center, committed $31.6 million to the community and removed 14 million gallons of contaminated water and 36,000 tons of waste soil from the area.
"The amount of tons of soil they plow or water they go through, honestly, that doesn't mean anything to me because I don't know if that's enough. I don't know what it means in the grand scheme of things they're supposed to be doing," Gyenes said.
Norfolk Southern says the south track soil removal and replacement process has been completed. On April 19, the company resumed south track rail operations with cars running at slow speed. Soil excavation is ongoing at the north track.
"There was a major chemical spill and someone needs to take responsibility and I feel no one's really done that yet," Gyenes said.