Environmental activist Erin Brockovich told residents of East Palestine, Ohio, to remain vigilant and document the environmental impact of a toxic train derailment this month. File Photo by Ricardo Watson/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Renowned environmental activist Erin Brockovich has advised residents of East Palestine, Ohio, to document the environmental impacts of a toxic train derailment in their town.
Speaking at a community meeting held Friday at the local high school. Brockovich discussed the Feb. 3 derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials, in which large amounts of hydrogen chloride and phosgene were released into the environment.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that more than 43,000 animals have been died as a result of the disaster.
"You need to be vigilant you need to journal, you need to document information," Brockovich told the meeting. "I will be talking tonight because we want you to get information that you can take home so you're better informed, so you have a better understanding."
The activist said East Palestine residents must document "this is what's happened to you, it will be your narrative and don't let anyone knock you off that game, of what in fact has happened to you."
Brockovich condemned "infrastructure companies with poor corporate models that cut maintenance, that put all of us at risk, and continue to just think once we poison a community its gonna magically go away," and warned that the full environmental impact of the derailment may take years to grasp.
"We often find out five and ten years down the road after you were told it was safe, 'Oh, oops, Huston we have a problem,'" she told the gathering.
"There is actually a moment here with this community rising up -- and you have been -- that we can take a different turn, a different track if you will, a better message and start dealing with our environmental issues, start dealing with our failing infrastructure, start giving information to people so we can better protect our health," she added.
Brockovich urged residents to stand firm.
"For every one of us, it is our water, it is our land to grow our food, it is our heath, and it is us, and we the people," she said. "Please be vigilant, hold your ground, we're gonna give you as much information we can."