East Palestine isn’t alone: Communities around the country grapple with toxic chemical exposure
A February train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, shone a spotlight on the impact of toxic chemicals. But communities who are exposed to such chemicals on a more routine basis say they’re still waiting for the same level of recognition.
“We’re glad that East Palestine is getting the attention that they’re getting, but we also need attention here in Louisiana,” said Shamell Lavigne, an activist with local environmental justice organization Rise St. James, which operates in the state’s infamous “Cancer Alley.”
The derailment in East Palestine released a number of chemicals, including a carcinogen known as vinyl chloride, which is used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.
While officials have said it is safe to return to the area, locals have reported health issues and the incident has provoked widespread outcry from residents, environmentalists and leaders, including in Washington.
However, the East Palestine community is not the only one facing exposure to vinyl chloride and the risks that come with it.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory — a list of self-reported toxic chemical emissions — more than 428,000 pounds of vinyl chloride was released into the air by 38 industry facilities last year.
The Hill, 09-04-23