EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — As Norfolk Southern's cleanup efforts continue at the site of its freight train derailment in East Palestine, a rail union leader says workers there have fallen ill.
In a letter sent to government leaders including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, the head of the American Rail System Federation (ARSF) of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters pleaded for officials to "use your influence and power to stop NS's (Norfolk Southern) reckless business practices that endanger the public and their Workers."
Specifically, Jonathon Long says many Norfolk Southern employees at the East Palestine derailment site are reporting that they are experiencing migraines and nausea. One worker told Long that he asked his supervisor to be transferred out of the derailment site because of his symptoms, but never heard back from his supervisor and was left at the job site.
Long also says that workers cleaning up the wreckage in East Palestine were not provided with personal protective equipment, including respirators, eye protection, and protective clothing. "When some of the NS (Norfolk Southern) Workers inquired about the appropriateness of their personal protective equipment and the safety of their working conditions, they would receive little or no response from NS officials."
The revelation of Long's letter comes as CNBC reports that leaders from 12 rail unions met with Buttigieg and Amit Bose, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to discuss the derailment, aftermath and needed safety improvements.
Here are other headlines from East Palestine on Wednesday:
-- Ohio U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and JD Vance were part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced the Railway Safety Act of 2023 to, among other things, increase required reportings of hazardous materials carried on freight trains.
-- DeWine spent most of the day on the ground in East Palestine. The governor pledged "to continue to focus on the safety of the people of East Palestine every single day."
"When I talk to people in the community, the No. 1 desire that is expressed to me is their desire to get back to where they were," DeWine said. "Back to normal, live their lives."
-- Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw said Wednesday that he plans to testify next Thursday at a U.S. Senate hearing on the derailment.