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The fiery clash underscored how deeply anxiety and mistrust still run in East Palestine, a town of about 4,700 people, after the derailment on Feb. 3.
Frustrations boiled over Thursday night in the largest public confrontation yet between the people of East Palestine, Ohio, and the operator of the freight train that derailed early last month, with angry residents in an emotional town hall lashing out at the lone representative from Norfolk Southern who took questions at the meeting, The New York Times has reported.
As Darrell Wilson, a top government relations official for Norfolk Southern tried repeatedly to apologize to the community and outline the company's recovery efforts, residents interrupted and shouted over him, demanding that he commit to getting them out of the area, and that the company "do the right thing."
Standing before Wilson and an assortment of environmental, health and political officials in the auditorium of East Palestine High School, residents vented and pleaded, describing how their families were still living in hotels or experiencing lingering health problems, including repeated vomiting and rashes, the report said.
They told the officials how they felt trapped, with few resources to move away from the homes they had spent their lives building, and demanded more answers about the validity of the testing done on their air, water and soil, according to the report.
"The fiery clash underscored how deeply anxiety and mistrust still run in East Palestine, a town of about 4,700 people, after the derailment on Feb. 3," said the report.
The decision to burn the train's cargo of vinyl chloride and other chemicals in order to avert the threat of an explosion heightened fears in the community about the long-term consequences of chemical exposure, and the meeting on Thursday night appeared to do little to assuage them, it added.