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Ohio Train Lawsuits face Legal Challenges Timely Insights on Laws, Issues and New Developements

Meanwhile, the EPA is called out for Testing Deception in Ohio

Lawsuits filed against Norfolk Southern Railroad in the Ohio disaster face case law and class rules that could make them difficult for injured parties to pursue. Potential plaintiffs will face obstacles to show they’ve suffered concrete injuries and are entitled to long-term remedies such as medical monitoring. Newer and older legal precedent may be very challenging for plaintiffs to navigate.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 2021 decision – TransUnion v. Ramirez – that the bar should be set high to show an “injury in fact.” In addition, Ohio’s own Sixth Circuit court ruled in 2011 – in Hirsch v. CSX Transportation – that medical monitoring cannot be justified only by speculation of an increased risk of disease.

NTSB says the accident was likely triggered by an overheated wheel bearing that was sparking. Video showed the train was sparking or burning at least 20 miles before the derailment. That flaming “hot box” apparently caused 38 rail cars to derail. The unnoticed fire then further sparked and began to spread to 12 other rail cars, eleven of which contained hazardous materials. Emergency responders then breached at least five other cars and ignited all their spilled contents in what they termed a “controlled burn.”

Residents fear short- and long-term Health Effects

The EPA last week ordered Norfolk Southern to fund any cleanup costs. Residents have since feared short- and long-term health effects, though EPA says multiple tests have shown the local air safe to breathe and East Palestine water safe to drink.

However, others who have filed suit over the East Palestine, disaster have said EPA performed improper tests and improper sampling. Those criticisms have sparked separate lawsuits against the EPA itself.

“They’re making things worse by doing improper remediation controls, not using proper sampling media, and trying to remediate before we even know what we’re dealing with,” said Tammy Clark, a lawyer who has filed suit against the EPA.

Kristin Meghan, an industrial hygienist who has also worked in sea-burning events, chemical and biological, radiation, nuclear, and explosives, and worked in bioengineering in the Air Force, said they weren’t using the right equipment for the situation.

“They’re making it look like they’re doing things,” she said, “but the things that they’re doing aren’t going to make them properly identify hazards, cumulative dose, and synergistic toxicity.”

She said they’re looking at a group of chemicals rather than specific chemicals. And a lot of these chemicals are more harmful when you combine them in a cumulative dose.

Their remediation efforts are creating greater hazards, she said. For example, “They’re doing aeration of the water. Whenever you agitate or aerate water that has hydrocarbons, VOCs, inorganic or organic compounds, these things can create gases into the breathing zone.”

Officials aren’t controlling the scene, she said, and no one is even saying don’t go in the water.

Where are Dioxin Levels not being checked?

Why isn’t the EPA or state of Ohio checking for dioxins? Mike Adams asked.

Ms. Clark said there are trains passing through the area about every ten minutes, and they’re too long (for safe passage), heavily loaded, so there’s a big financial push just to keep the trains running.

“But you don’t put human lives at risk and the environment just because of money,” she said.

She added that the government doesn’t want to admit they’re wrong.

“There’s going to be big payouts and big liability issues,” she said. “They want to sweep this all under the rug. They know that 99 percent of Americans cannot talk the talk we  are right now. The chemistry, the acronyms, the industrial hygiene language. Most Americans have no idea. So that when they do sampling to obtain a number that they want to obtain, they can just move on, get the trains running again, nothing to see here folks.”

The EPA said last week that the reason they can’t test for dioxins now is that they don’t have a baseline of what the levels were before the derailment, Mr. Adams noted.

“That’s as dumb as saying I’m not going to check the status of your cancer because I wasn’t your original doctor to know the size of your original tumor,” said Ms. Clark.

People burning their trash can contribute to the dioxins, she said, “But let’s not insult the American people. It’s very obvious that they are doing improper sampling, not conveying proper risk communication. They throw incorrect samples onto the EPA web site. They make it very hard for the average lay person to understand it.”

Kristen Meghan said she has filed an affidavit outlining all of the improper actions of EPA in faulty sampling media and testing. The first thing they should have done, she said that she mentioned in her affidavit, is utilize portable GCMS to identify targeted chemicals. That standard procedure was not performed.

Adams said the EPA is trying to not to find anything, especially dioxins.

Ms. Meghan said there’s currently a bill in congress regarding rail safety that says, in future, railroads will need to inform local fire departments and ER services when they’re bringing hazardous materials through a town.

She thinks only Congressional oversight could bring railroads to heel because they are such an old industry that they’re well represented by Congress.

Mr. Adams asked about the orders responders received to destroy all of their clothing, not to even try to clean it. “What does that say about the dangers of the chemicals burning?” he asked.

Meghan noted that responders went from full PPE hazmat gear in a couple days to raincoats and hats. Meanwhile, people in the town are not fine, she said: migraines, blurred vision, burning throats are common.

“Some have sent me pictures of chloracne, a sign of dioxin poisoning.”

Chloracne can take up to 12 months to manifest after exposure. Airborne exposure can cause it. Similar to contact dermatitis, it’s the body’s response to being exposed to toxic chemicals.

EPA is Not working for Citizens

Ms. Meghan said the EPA has “proven they can’t handle the great power they’ve been given. Why do we give them more money to continue to harm the American people and the environment?

“The good thing is that people are waking up to how useless these alphabet agencies are. I’ve watched the EPA for years watch corporations contribute to mass pollution, and our own government and military (pollution), but then some mom and pop shops get caught on some minor charge. We need a third party, non-government affiliated contractor, to have bids put in. The first thing they need to do is get these people the hell out of the town. What is infuriating me the most, I already have some data I can’t speak about right now, but it needs to be conveyed nursing mothers need to know that these chemicals can leak into breast milk.”

Special Risk to Pregnant Women

She said there’s a special risk to pregnant women, neurodevelopmental risks, children can be born with missing limbs from tiny amounts of dioxin exposure, but no one is being told the truth about this.

“We know these dioxins can cause very serious birth defects,” said Ms. Clark. “ADD, ADHD, autism, learning disabilities. Children up to ages 4-5 don’t even have their neurological connections matured yet.”

Ms. Meghan, who worked in government for 12 years, said the cleanup has been marked by violations of EPA and OSHA standards.

She said she has also been shocked as to why the liberal groups, who are usually concerned about the environment, haven’t said a word about Ohio.  “Where’s Greta when you need her?” she asked. “Why all the money to Ukraine and so little attention paid to Ohio? This is a federal agency not doing its job.”


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