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Class I Railroads

After East Palestine, Will Cincinnati Voters Stop Norfolk Southern From Buying Their City's Railway?

By Jake Johnson - Common Dreams, November 2, 2023

Web Editor's Note: unfortunately, they didn't.

"The citizens of Cincinnati are at a historical crossroads," wrote one locomotive engineer of Issue 22. "The choice they make could either uphold a legacy of public ownership that has withstood the test of time or cede control to private interests."

Cincinnati voters will decide next Tuesday whether to allow the company responsible for the toxic train crash in East Palestine, Ohio earlier this year to purchase the last remaining municipally owned interstate railroad in the United States.

Norfolk Southern has been working to buy the Cincinnati Southern Railway (CSR) for years, but the effort largely flew under the national radar until one of the company's trains derailed in East Palestine in February 2023, unleashing chemical pollution that sparked major public health concerns and put the small Ohio town in the spotlight.

The wreck brought renewed scrutiny to Norfolk Southern's lax safety procedures, poor treatment of workers, and long history of lobbying against basic regulatory measures, making the hugely profitable corporation a poster child of rail industry greed and dysfunction.

Concerns about Norfolk Southern's practices in the wake of the East Palestine disaster have fueled opposition to the company's proposed $1.6 billion purchase of the CSR, which has been in public hands since its construction in the late 1800s.

The unelected Cincinnati board of trustees that manages the 338-mile CSR and the city's Democratic mayor announced and celebrated the proposed sale last November, setting the stage for the November 7 vote on Issue 22.

Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center organizer Magda Orlander toldIn These Times on Wednesday that public opposition to the proposed sale has been "snowballing" since early voting began in early October. The grassroots group Derail the Sale has formed in opposition to Issue 22 and a number of local organizations, including the Cincinnati NAACP and Neighborhoods United Cincinnati, have joined the fight.

Floods In East Palestine Bring More Vinyl Chloride Threatening Residents While Biden Helps Bosses

Rail Worker Previews Next Round of Union Negotiations

Baltimore Resident EXPLODES at BS DEI Propaganda

What do East Palestine and Baltimore Have in Common?

Baltimore Resident Max Alvarez Explains What Happened with the Bridge Collapse

From The Baltimore Ship Bridge Wreck To Norfolk Southern East Palestine Derailment & Vinyl Chloride

Lessons From The Environmental Catastrophe Of East Palestine Norfolk Southern Railroad Derailment

The Nightmare In East Palestine Ohio: East Palestine Residents Speak About Their Fight For Healthcare

‘If I don’t talk no one’s going to know’: Stories of pain from East Palestine move coalition members to action

By Steve Mellon - Pittsburg Union Progress, March 24, 2024

Laurie Harmon stepped from the crowd gathered in a community hall at the East Palestine Country Club around 2:30 on Saturday afternoon and told her story to a hushed crowd of about 80 people. Many had traveled from as far as California and Texas to hear stories like hers, and to offer their support.

Laurie, 48, a retired registered nurse, lives three blocks from the site of the Feb. 3, 2023, toxic train derailment that many residents believe poisoned the town.

“On the 12th, I started getting rashes,” she said, her tone matter-of-fact. “On May 1st, about the time they started digging up a pit and cleaning up, I started getting second-, third- and fourth-degree chemical burns. I had burns over 80% of my body. They burrow deep down in. It’s horrible. I was going to doctors, trying to get it figured out. Nobody knows; no one can tell me. I was diagnosed with systemic contact dermatitis due to chemical exposure. I have now lesions on my spine, cysts on my kidneys; I have kidney stones. On March 4, I had a heart attack. …”

She’s scheduled for heart surgery at Cleveland Clinic. She’s seeing seven doctors. Her medical bills total $500,000. She’s on Medicare and says she’ll have to pay 20% of that. To avoid the rashes, she quit going outside in September.

“I’m losing everything. I’m losing my home; I lost my relationship; I’m a foster parent. I lost my kids. This is more than one person can take. I just don’t even know what to say. I want to thank you guys for coming here. I wasn’t even going to come, because sometimes I feel I’m defeated, but I can’t feel that way, because if I don’t talk no one’s going to know. No one is going to know.”

Laurie’s story, and the stories of other East Palestine residents in attendance, moved the crowd, which included organizers and members from a number of unions, as well as several environmental activists, academics and some people who simply wanted to offer help to a community in crisis. Hours later, after a number of panel discussions and the performance of a song written about the East Palestine disaster by musician Mike Stout, they voted to take action.

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