East Palestine residents on Thursday continuously interrupted a sole Norfolk Southern official at a town hall event as concerns remain over last month’s train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals in the eastern Ohio town.
“We are sorry. We’re very sorry for what happened. We feel horrible about it,” Norfolk Southern representative Darrell Wilson said, according to The New York Times.
Those comments were met with shouts by residents to “evacuate us” and “do the right thing.”
“Get my grandchildren out of here!” a man yelled, per the Times. “If you care about us, get our grandkids out.”
Wilson emphasized that the rail company plans to fully clean up the site of the derailment, in response to which someone yelled out, “No, you’re not!”
“We’re going to do the right thing, we’re going to clean up the site,” the Norfolk Southern representative added, according to CNN. “We’re going to test until we get all the contamination gone.”
After the train derailed on Feb. 3, officials conducted a controlled release and burn-off of the hazardous chemicals in some of the cars due to concerns of a potential explosion.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday ordered the company to begin testing for dioxins. Dioxins are persistent, toxic pollutants that could potentially have been released from the burning of vinyl chloride that was contained in some of the train cars.
However, the EPA noted in its announcement that testing of “indicator chemicals” continues to suggest a “low probability” that dioxins were released in the incident.
The EPA officials at Thursday’s meeting also faced pushback from the community over their response.
“Why did you wait so long?” one man yelled out at EPA regional administrator Debra Shore, as she discussed the new requirements, the Times reported. Others yelled out “Start now!” and “It’s too late!”