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Environmental activist Erin Brockovich calls East Palestine train derailment 'classic cover-up'

CBS Pittsburgh 3/2/2023 Meghan Schiller

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (KDKA) - After spending all morning with some residents in East Palestine on Thursday, environmental activist Erin Brockovich said she was "very upset." 

"It's classic cover-up in an environmental disaster, running the people around in hopes that they don't figure it out or we all go away and nobody's none the wiser when they are literally going to be the sitting ducks here," she said. 

Several universities sent research teams to East Palestine over the past few weeks and the results of independent testing are starting to come back. 

Carnegie Mellon University partnered with Texas A&M's research team. Data shows some concentrations in East Palestine for nine out of 50 chemicals the EPA reported are higher than normal. If these levels continue, researchers say they may be of health concern.

"You give an all clear but yet you don't have any data really to prove that it is all clear and then when the people come back and they tell you, 'I'm smelling stuff, we're sick, we're going to the emergency room, I can' breathe,' they're just disregarded because everything is safe. It's obvious nothing is safe yet," Brockovich said. 

The partnership between the two universities hopes to answer two questions: Are there other chemicals in the air that the EPA isn't monitoring? And what other locations can be tested that don't currently have an EPA monitor?

On Thursday night, the Environmental Protection Agency said it's requiring Norfolk Southern to test for dioxins at the site of the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.  

Brockovich also strongly defended against accusations she's just looking for good stories in East Palestine. 

"All the money in the world doesn't change anything for these people. Nothing. They've already lost everything, and their future. Really? Really? 'So you're going to have a lawsuit?' Yes, the money helps, and I want people to understand that so they can get out of here cause many of them can't afford to do that." 

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