Workers Cleaning Up Toxic Ohio Train Derailment Are Getting Sick, Rail Union Leader Warns

A top union leader penned a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about a number of rail workers at the Norfolk Southern derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio, who have become sick, likely from the toxic chemical spill. CNBC obtained the letter on Wednesday. 

Jonathan Long, a union representative for the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, titled the letter "Norfolk Southern Is Dangerous to America" and said about 40 workers were ordered by the railway to clean up the wreckage. 

Workers Cleaning Up Toxic Ohio Train Derailment Are Getting Sick, Rail Union Leader Warns

Long said workers weren't given proper personal protection equipment to clean up the toxic wreckage. He said many workers weren't supplied respirators, protective clothing, or eye protection. 

As a result of the chemical exposure, many rail workers "reported that they continue to experience migraines and nausea, days after the derailment, and they all suspect that they were willingly exposed to these chemicals at the direction of [Norfolk Southern]."

Long added, "This lack of concern for the workers' safety and well-being is, again, a basic tenet of NS's cost-cutting business model."

Norfolk Southern released a statement to CNBC about the cleanup effort. They said:

Norfolk was "on-scene immediately after the derailment and coordinated our response with hazardous material professionals who were on site continuously to ensure the work area was safe to enter and the required PPE was utilized, all in addition to air monitoring that was established within an hour."

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, and the Biden administration have ensured adequate measures have been taken to protect residents and surrounding communities from the toxic chemical spill and controlled burn of vinyl chloride. 

But perhaps the EPA and government aren't telling rail workers and residents the truth. That's because rail workers are getting sick, residents complain about health issues, and animals in state parks are dying. 

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