Hundreds of concerned residents have lingering questions about the health risks and have demanded more transparency from the rail operator.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Residents of an Ohio village that was overturned by a derailed freight train packed the school’s gymnasium Wednesday to find out if they were safe from toxic chemicals that spilled or burned.

Hundreds of concerned people gathered to hear state officials tell them — as they had done earlier in the day — that testing so far showed the local air is safe to breathe and promised that air and water safety testing would continue.

But the residents had protracted questions over health hazards and they demanded more transparency from the rail operator.

Rail operator Norfolk Southern did not attend what was billed as an open house with local, state and federal officials over safety concerns for their staff. In a statement, the railroad said the incident posed a “physical threat to our employees and members of the public.”

The meeting comes amid ongoing concerns about huge plumes of smoke, foul odors, questions about possible threats to domestic and wildlife, any potential impact on drinking water and what’s happening with the cleanup.

Even when school resumed and trains started running again, people were worried.

“Why are they silent?” Kathy Dyke said of the railroad. “They don’t support here, they don’t answer questions. For three days we didn’t even know what was on the train. “

“I have three grandchildren,” she said. “Are they going to grow up here and get cancer in five years? So those are all factors that play in my mind.”

In and around East Palestine, near the Pennsylvania state line, residents said they need help handling financial aid the railroad has offered to hundreds of families who have been evacuated, and they want to know if it will be held responsible for happened

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told Norfolk Southern on Wednesday that his office is considering legal action against the rail operator.

“The pollution that continues to contaminate the area around eastern Palestine has created nuisances, damaged natural resources and harmed the environment,” Yost said in the campaign’s letter.

The state’s Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that the latest tests show that the water from the five wells that supply the village with drinking water is free of contaminants. But the EPA also recommends testing for private wells because they are closer to the surface.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates the spill affected more than seven miles (11.2 kilometers) of streams and killed about 3,500 fish, mostly small fish such as minnows and darters.

There were no confirmed deaths of other wildlife, including livestock, state officials said.

Norfolk Southern announced Tuesday that it is setting up a $1 million fund to help the community of about 4,700 people while continuing recovery efforts, including removing spilled contaminants from land and streams and monitoring air quality.

It will also increase the number of residents eligible for evacuation reimbursement, covering the entire village and surrounding area.

“We will be judged by our actions,” Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said in a statement. “We are cleaning up the area in an environmentally responsible way, compensating residents affected by the derailment, and working with community members to determine what is needed to help East Palestine recover and prosper.”

No one was injured when about 50 cars were moving derailed in a fiery, disfigured mess on the outskirts of Eastern Palestine on February 3 ass fears grew about a potential explosion, officials seeking to avoid an uncontrolled explosion evacuated the area and decided emit and burn toxic vinyl chloride of five railroad cars, sending flames and black smoke back into the sky.

The derailment is believed to have been caused by a mechanical problem with the rail car’s axle, and the National Transportation Safety Board said it has video showing an overheated wheel bearing just before it happened. The NTSB said it expects its preliminary report in about two weeks.

Misinformation and exaggerations are spreading on the Internet, and state and federal officials have repeatedly assured that air monitoring has not found any problems. Even low levels of pollutants that are not considered hazardous can create lingering odors or symptoms such as headaches, Ohio’s health director said Tuesday.

Precautions are also being taken to ensure that pollutants that reach the Ohio River do not end up in drinking water.

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