For our team project, the 2022-2023 cohort of Fresh Voices chose to focus on two incidents with major air quality implications that took place close to the two Fresh Voices locations, Pittsburgh, PA & Birmingham, AL, during the winter of this program year. By diving into different aspects of the incidents and sharing our findings, we hope to clarify what happened, how residents and government agencies responded, and implications for the future.
A Closer Look at the East Palestine Train Derailment and the Moody Landfill Fire
East Palestine Train Derailment
Moody Landfill Fire
EPA Response Page
Effects on Local Residents
East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding area
"Off the Rails: An Exploration of the February 2023 Train Derailment in East Palestine, Ohio" - Fractracker StoryMap
East Palestine Norfolk Southern Train Derailment
Several government entities were involved in the assessment, evacuation, and clean-up plans following the derailment. Federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) worked with state and local agencies like the Ohio Department of Health and both states' departments of environmental protection and emergency management.
As of June 2023, the focus of many agencies and local governments has been widespread clean-up, waste disposal, and hearing from residents on their ongoing needs.
Ema.ohio.gov: East Palestine updates and media releases from the Ohio Emergency Management Agency
March Hearing: “Government Response to East Palestine: Ensuring Safety and Transparency for the Community”
Moody Landfill Fire
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the EPA were the primary entities involved in the assessment and clean up efforts around the Moody Landfill.
Moodyfireupdate.com: Update summary from ADEM - January 31 through April 4
Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)'s December 22nd notice about the fire, including recommendations for residents
Incident Cause and Prevention of Future Incidents
Comparing the Incidents
These two incidents, both occurring within a couple months of each other but in different regions of the country, share many similarities. One major difference was the longevity of the actual event (a short, dramatic train derailment vs. a long, slow-burning fire), but, even still, both events stretched into months of assessment, clean-up, and far-reaching impacts.
The following graphic tracks some of the major similarities and differences between the two events we've focused on for this project.
Actions & Additional Resources
Read more about what RVO has been doing in response to the East Palestine derailment here, including town halls and efforts to make sure residents' voices are heard.
This long-term health survey, the East Palestine Train Derailment Health Tracking Study, hopes to collect 10,000 responses over time. They are looking to reach residents in Columbiana (OH), Mahoning (OH), Stark (OH), Carroll (OH), Jefferson, Lawrence (PA), Beaver (PA) and Hancock (OH) counties.
In the episode "Environmental Toxicology (POISONS + TRAIN DERAILMENT) with Dr. Kimberly K. Garrett," podcast host Alie Ward discusses the derailment and many related issues.
Organizations like GASP are keeping tabs on the Alabama Department of Environmental Management's efforts to improve their ability to better respond to future events. GASP Birmingham will keep residents in the loop with developments, especially as state and local officials move forward with their new working group delving into this issue. Sign up for GASP emails and follow them on social media.
Rho, reading their poem "To the politicians who keep voting against our planet"
We appreciate your enthusiasm and collaboration on this project, Emilio, Caroline, Rho, Ben, Gouri, Maggie, Phanuelle, Abby, Mariama, and Jacob. We know we'll see more great things from you in the future. And an additional huge thank you to our student intern, Grace, whose work was essential in bringing this all together.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about Fresh Voices or other projects.