Residents listen as environmental activist Erin Brockovich speaks during a town hall at East Palestine High School on February 24, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio.

Residents listen as environmental activist Erin Brockovich speaks during a town hall at East Palestine High School on February 24, 2023 in East Palestine, Ohio. On February 3rd, a Norfolk Southern Railways train carrying toxic chemicals derailed causing an environmental disaster.

(Photo by Michael Swensen/Getty Images)

Activist Erin Brockovich Leads East Palestine Residents in Town Hall Meeting

Brockovich's Friday night Town Hall filled the auditorium and also two overflow rooms at East Palestine High School

"Unfortunately, this is not a quick fix," activist Erin Brockovich said to a packed crowd in an East Palestine, Ohio High School auditorium Friday night. "This is going to be a long game."

About 2,500 people and 100 reporters attended the town hall meeting with the crowd spilling into the school gymnasium. Brockovich, who became an activist in 1993 battling Pacific Gas & Electric Co. over groundwater contamination in Hinkley, California, told the audience to fight back and trust their instincts.

Brockovich and attorneys warned of long-term health and environmental dangers from the chemicals released after the fiery train derailment in East Palestine.

"I can't tell you how many communities feel that these moments are the biggest gaslight of their life," Brockovich told the audience.

"I've never seen in 30 years a situation like this," she said, warning residents that what her team was going to present them may scare them. "... I feel your angst, and I feel your frustration. And I want to share something with you; you're not alone."

"You want to be heard, but you’re going to be told it’s safe; you’re going to be told not to worry,” she said. “That’s just rubbish because you’re going to worry. Communities want to be seen and heard.”

“These chemicals take time to move in the water. You’re going to need groundwater monitoring. People on well water: You really need to be on alert. They’re going to need to implement soil vapor intrusion modeling. Believe us. It’s coming,” she said.

“You start getting 50 and 100,000 pissed-off moms together — I’m telling you right now: Things change,” she said.

“You have the ability to become — and you will become — your own critical thinker. You will vet information; you will ask questions, you will demand answers. You will listen to that gut and that instinct that will keep you connected as a community,” Brockovich said. “Don’t let what’s happened here divide you.”

A presentation followed Brockovich's speech by Texas lawyer Mikal Watts, who cited rulings by the Ohio Supreme Court to explain why he could not offer advice on specific cases in a public meeting or stay after the meeting to answer questions.

Watts did, however, say: "I'm begging you — for your own good — go get your blood and urine tested now."

Environmental advocate Erin Brockovich joins East Palestine residents in town hall meetingEnvironmental advocate Erin Brockovich will attend a town hall meeting in East Palestine, Ohio Friday evening to talk with ...

Common Dreams reported Friday that almost half of U.S. voters surveyed by progressive think tank Data for Progress blame rail company Norfolk Southern for the February 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio which forced 1,500 residents to evacuate, contaminated soil and water, and has been blamed for causing a number of symptoms even as officials claim air and water monitoring hasn't shown dangerous levels of pollution.

Forty-nine percent of the 1,243 people surveyed by Data for Progress from February 17-22 said they believed Norfolk Southern was responsible for the crash, including 50% of Democrats, 52% of Independents, and 47% of Republicans.

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