A drive through the small Ohio village at the center of a media train wreck –

Much of what we’ve seen on Twitter about East Palestine, Ohio following the devastating train derailment and subsequent chemical release and burn would make you think the small village is an apocalyptic wasteland.

Fires, plumes of smoke creating mushroom clouds, and reports of dead animals have dominated the ‘news’ from social media.

Social media coverage of the incident has been … well … a train wreck.

This is the kind of tweet we’ve been seeing. The burn of the chemical cars occurred on February 6.

Yes, there was an intentional burn of rail cars that were releasing toxic chemicals to try to prevent a larger explosion, and many confirmed photos of the giant smoke plume are making their way around social media. This may be one of them (this particular image has not been confirmed).

This was definitely not, however, East Palestine on February 15.

Reports of dead animals appear to be isolated to a few confirmed cases. A local man who keeps foxes and other exotic animals lost one fox and others were sick. Another local woman believes her cat fell ill and died because of the toxic chemicals. A woman in North Lima, a town 10 miles to the northwest, against the prevailing winds, believe her 5 chickens died as a result of the rail disaster.

The reports closest to the site seem most likely related to the incident. Fish kills in the direct vicinity of the accident are confirmed to be related to chemical contamination.

These few cases have exploded into stories about ‘hundreds of dead chickens’ and ‘dead wildlife and livestock up to 100 miles away’. This appears to be simply not true or social media would be inundated with photos of the unfortunate victims of this ‘Ohio Chernobyl’? Where are the journalists who should be confirming the accuracy of these reports?

A Twitchy source from the Buckeye state took a road trip to East Palestine and drove through the town so we could show you what the conditions on the ground really look like. We’ve edited the video to show you some of what they saw in East Palestine on February 15, 2023.

That is East Palestine right now – much like any small town rural Ohio village, but now a community with serious questions that they deserve answers to.

Residents of East Palestine on the city streets.

The overly dramatic reporting of the incident will not, in the long run, be helpful to the residents of East Palestine.

As images of fiery mushroom clouds give way to residents meeting in East Palestine, the place everyone was told was an inhabitable hellhole, social media’s interest in the plight of this small community may likely disappear as well.

There have been complaints that national media is not covering the story as well. There has been reporting, but we think it’s a valid point that a similar incident would likely garner much more attention if the victims weren’t in rural Ohio.

Criticisms that Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, was AWOL through the initial days of the incident are well-founded as well. Mayor Pete literally didn’t comment on the incident publicly until 10 days after the disaster occurred.

And this, only after he was called out.

Yeah, it’s like that.

It seems the national media took a greater interest in the story as well after the political finger pointing began.

Now we have social media sensationalism, national media slow to respond and who are likely to be sucked into the politics of the situation, and a well-earned distrust of the government.

This is what happens when government and media torch their trust with the American people. This is not good for the people of East Palestine.

At the site of the crash. Out-of-state vehicles are busy throughout the town as part of the disaster management response.

Local news media reports, on the other hand, provide some of the best information, such as this writeup by The Marietta Times. At least you’ll get more accurate information about what is happening. Whether you trust those officials is a different story.

Still, you’re likely to get the best information from the people on the ground and who actually have a stake in the surrounding communities.

A worker oversees the road closure directly across from the site of the wreck as cleanup crews work in the background.

For the people of East Palestine, now is when the real journey begins. What are the long-term impacts of the chemical release on their groundwater, private wells, and soil? Will Norfolk Southern reimburse them appropriately for the damage done? What can be done to ensure they feel safe in their own homes again?

Those questions are not nearly as exciting as burning rail cars or political gamesmanship.

Torched rail cars peek out between the houses that line the railroad in East Palestine.

Residents were hoping to start getting some of those answers the same evening this video and photos were captured, but Norfolk Southern suddenly backed out.

Norfolk Southern has, however, managed to keep steady train traffic running through East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern had the rail lines through East Palestine operational quickly after the disaster.

We witnessed multiple air quality sensor readings throughout the town.

Workers monitor air quality sensors at stations throughout East Palestine.

The people of East Palestine are being told the air is safe based on this data. It appears the outside workers brought in to monitor the situation and perform other cleanup duties agree because none of the workers filmed or photographed were wearing respirators.

In fact, the only people we noticed wearing respirators at all were two journalists.

A cat scurried across the road in front of the vehicle taking video.

Stories of widespread animal death are seemingly less and less likely as time passes. Our source did not witness any such thing in the area or in the outskirts where various livestock appeared healthy and normal.

Again, this seems to be something journalists could have gotten to the bottom of days ago.

Contamination containment and filtering operations near East Palestine Park.

The larger concern by many, at this point, seems to be whether the local soil, ground water, and downstream tributaries have been contaminated.

Crews were witnessed working that problem at the point where Sulphur Run converges on Leslie Run. Sulphur Run passes directly through the crash site before heading east towards East Palestine Park. Leslie Run is the creek where fish kills were confirmed.

Crews working the site of the train wreck.

Once local residents can gain confidence there are no long-term effects from exposure to the air (there have been some recent reports of symptoms such as headaches and skin rashes), it seems water and soil contamination will be the primary concern.

East Palestine has a long road to recovery. Responsible journalism can help them get there.


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