Following the fiery derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals along the Ohio-Pennsylvania line, renowned 9/11 attorney Michael Barasch, whose law firm represents over 25,000 members of the 9/11 community, said the EPA insisting the “air is safe” sent “shivers” up his spine, given that clients of his “are dying every single day from 9/11 toxic dust,” as he warned residents of the affected areas to “stay away and don’t believe the EPA.”
After the East Palestine disaster saw harmful pollutants released into the air, surface soils and water, attorney Michael Barasch told Breitbart News that news of the incident followed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) insisting the “air is safe” sent “shivers” up his spine, especially given that clients of his “are dying every single day from 9/11 toxic dust.”
Barasch spearheaded the efforts to reach hundreds of thousands of uninformed 9/11 victims still owed benefits after having suffered from harmful consequences of toxic exposure to post-9/11 World Trade Center dust, noting that “9/11 didn’t end on 9/11” as many individuals continue to suffer as a result of their exposure to harmful toxins.
Comparing the EPA’s assurances following the 2001 terror attacks with its recent ones, Barasch, a longtime legal advocate for first responders to the 9/11 attacks and others harmed by resulting toxic dust, argued that “21 years ago, the government at least had a reason: they wanted to reopen Wall Street.”
“They should have just been honest with people then and said, ‘Look, if you don’t have to be downtown in your office, stay away until the fires go out,’” he said. “And that’s what they should have done here.”
Questioning why officials are “telling people the air is safe when they don’t really know one way or another,” Barasch suggested they instead “clear out the area — a 20 mile radius — for two to four weeks and consider it a toxic area until independent scientists can verify that it’s really safe.”
“Otherwise we’re going to see in another twenty years exactly what I’m seeing now — with people developing illnesses and dying from post-9/11 toxic air — only on a lower scale,” he said.
Given the amounts of contaminants that were burnt into the air or spilled into local waterways, Barasch wondered “how can anybody with any kind of assurance say the air is safe?”
“They can’t,” he exclaimed. “And it’s such a disservice to our communities.”
The prominent attorney maintained he was unable to “believe the EPA.”
“They’ve lost their credibility,” he asserted, adding the issue is not a political one given that “it was the Bush EPA that said the air was safe to breathe 21 years ago, [whereas] now its the Biden EPA.”
While presumably many “great men and women” work there, Barasch proposed that the EPA “should be independent of everybody — even though the president does appoint the administrator.”
“It should be something like the CDC that people really trust, and I’m afraid that I have lost confidence when they say things like ‘the air is safe,’” he said.
According to Barasch, those responsible for the decontamination should have “erred on the side of extreme conservatism and tell people to stay away.”
In addition, residents should have been told that the Red Cross “will take care of you and we’ll put you up in high schools,” he said.
“I know it’s going to suck but they have to do that,” he added. “Otherwise, in 10 or 20 years, you’re gonna see people getting cancer in this area.”
Asked his advice for those in the vicinity of the toxic chemicals’ reach, Barasch urged residents to “stay away and don’t believe the EPA.”
“They don’t deserve to have credibility — not now, they don’t; not after a disaster like this; not when they keep so many other things secret from us,” he said.
“Why do they treat us like children?” he asked. “Just come out and say, ‘Some really bad stuff spilt and we had to create a fire.’”
Though he said he would not “second guess” them for initiating a controlled fire, claiming “that might be the right thing to do,” Barasch demanded that the circumstances should have been clearly laid out before those residing in proximity.
“[At least] tell everybody the truth: that it’s going to spread the chemicals in the air, miles and miles away,” he said. “Let people know this.”
#BREAKING: Rail cars continue to burn 16 hours after a train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. A mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for people within a 1-mile radius of the derailment. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported. @KDKA #SkyEye2 pic.twitter.com/YoIpGyE3t8
— Ian Smith (@ismithKDKA) February 4, 2023
Barasch accused the government of “treating us like infants, like we don’t care and we won’t question.”
“Well now we’re questioning,” he said.
He also highlighted the “many attorneys swooping in” filing numerous class action lawsuits, claiming it “really gives lawyers a terrible reputation when things like this happen.”
“Though I’m all in favor of holding accountability: the railroad deserves to be sued [and] the federal government — if they lied about the quality of air — deserves to be sued,” he said. “But there’s no reason to drag these people through years of litigation.”
“I just don’t see that as a good thing,” he added. “The railroads and the government should get together and create something and get rid of all these lawyers just swooping in on these poor residents who are no doubt breathing really bad stuff.”
He also expressed his hope the government will “do the right thing” like it eventually did in the past.
“I was very critical of the EPA 21 years ago, but I’m [also] equally complementary of Congress when I said they did the right thing by passing the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, created the World Trade Center Health Program and Victim Compensation Fund, limited non-litigious attorney fees to ten percent, and provided free healthcare for illnesses linked to the toxic exposure,” he said.
“That’s what they should do here,” he concluded.
Experts continue their struggle to gauge possible health impacts of the chemical spill amid clean-up efforts as the Ohio community deals with the aftermath of the February 3 derailment that saw roughly 50 train cars involved.
According to reports, the derailed train was actually carrying more toxic chemicals than initially known — including ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, ethylhexyl acrylate, and isobutylene — adding to the lingering concerns.
This is why people don't trust government.
You cannot tell people that there has been and continues to be hazardous pollutants contaminating the environment while at the same time saying "all is well."
People aren't stupid. @GovMikeDeWine @EPA https://t.co/eSfa9JPKzH
— Erin Brockovich (@ErinBrockovich) February 13, 2023
Days later, Ohio officials performed a “controlled release” of five derailed train cars holding vinyl chloride — a gas classified as a known carcinogen to humans, according to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute — though officials warned the move would send toxic gas into the air.
The train dumped over one million pounds of the cancer-causing gas directly into the environment during its controlled burn of the chemical, which is reportedly more in one week than all industrial emitters combined in 2021.
On Thursday, Ohio Senator JD Vance (R) visited East Palestine, where he discovered what appeared to be chemicals in the water of a creek.
Visited a local creek in East Palestine today. These waterways are still very polluted. It’s time for Norfolk Southern to finish the cleanup. Check this video out: pic.twitter.com/4lsHBmrMJj
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) February 16, 2023
He also called on EPA administrator Michael Regan to drink the tap water in East Palestine if the EPA deems the village’s water safe for residents’ consumption.
WATCH: Senator @JDVance1 challenges EPA Administrator Regan to drink the tap water in East Palestine, OH
“If the EPA Administrator wants to stand here and tell people that the tap water is safe…they should be willing to drink it.”pic.twitter.com/Zesm3LoDDr
— William Martin (@wsmartin218) February 16, 2023
On Friday, EPA Administrator Michael Regan responded to criticism that it took almost two weeks for a senior Biden administration official to visit East Palestine in the wake of the train derailment there by stating that a visit would have diverted resources from the emergency response and there has been no loss of life or injuries “because emergency responders and local officials were able to focus on the job and not visitations.”
Subsequently, House Oversight Committee member Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) expressed his belief that congressional oversight will happen, while criticizing the EPA, FEMA, and the White House for “barely even acknowledging” the issue.
He also suggested Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg “needs to go.”
“He’s proven that he is inept at his job,” Donalds said.
Ohio State Senator Michael Rulli (R) told Breitbart News that Buttigieg “needs to resign right now” over the train derailment in East Palestine, after the former mayor appeared to minimize the disaster by claiming there are a thousand train derailments each year.
Meanwhile, Buttigieg appeared to be prioritizing other issues after suggesting there are too many white people working in construction while speaking at the National Association of Counties Conference, where he urged attendees to “really work with organized labor, to work with your contractors, to work with your community colleges on holding a workforce that reflects the community.”
Buttigieg made no mention of the Ohio train derailment while speaking at a conference this morning but did find the time to say that there are too many white people who work construction. pic.twitter.com/q4WNcq10h9
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) February 13, 2023
On Saturday, Ohio Mayor Trent Conaway reacted to FEMA sending federal resources to the city two weeks after the incident by stating that while he’s glad they’re coming, “it’s a little late.”
Following further discussions with FEMA tonight, they will be deploying federal resources to East Palestine. pic.twitter.com/T8exeZBRXs
— Governor Mike DeWine (@GovMikeDeWine) February 18, 2023
He also called for testing for at least the next decade and for the Department of Health and Human Services to start doing studies.
Former President Donald Trump is slated to travel to East Palestine this week to tour the damage of the Norfolk Southern train derailment and clean-up efforts.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein
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