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East Palestine resident says whistleblower is 'tip of the iceberg' for disaster response 'cover-up'

"The truth is going to come out" about potential mismanagement in the East Palestine toxic train derailment response, according to one resident who reacted to a whistleblower.

East Palestine, Ohio, residents are expressing frustration after learning that the emergency response to the toxic train derailment last year was riddled with mistakes.

"We're just hanging in there. It's all we can do," East Palestine local Linda Murphy said on "The Bottom Line" Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is disputing whistleblower claims of mistakes and "no confidence" in early data collected from the site where a Norfolk-Southern train hauling caustic materials derailed along the Pennsylvania-Ohio border.

A person who said he helped craft the technology and interpret data from advanced radiological sensors on a high-tech EPA plane used to survey the damage and take hazmat readings told The Associated Press the aircraft was enlisted too late. In turn, the whistleblower told the outlet, it may have been unnecessary to burn off toxic vinyl chloride from five rail cars in a controlled release.


"My understanding is [the plane] was supposed to be here and collect hundreds of hours worth of data, and it didn't do that. It didn't collect the data where it was supposed to, when it was supposed to. The whole thing was a fail," Murphy said. "I think that this has been a cover-up."

In a lengthy response to a Fox News Digital inquiry, the EPA pushed back on the allegations, saying whistleblower characterizations of the plane's response are "false," adding weather conditions prevented the plane from promptly surveying the location.

"That sort of information that they're giving people, it's very disheartening," Murphy responded. "I'm so elated that he has come forward. And hopefully this is the tip of the iceberg and we're going to start getting some truth, because we certainly haven't been getting it up until this point."

Since the disaster, the agency said it has collected 28,000 air samples and that, in the time since residents were allowed back to their homes, there have not been "sustained chemicals of concern found in the air." The agency added it will continue to honor public records requests and be transparent in its response to the tragedy.

Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's office said that when it comes to whistleblowers, anyone with time-sensitive and pertinent information has been asked repeatedly to come forward, including in the immediate aftermath of the Norfolk-Southern spill. 

However, East Palestine residents remain skeptical of the EPA’s defense and worried over potential health impacts from the controlled burn.


"What's crazy is, from the get-go, there was only one vinyl chloride car that was ever in danger of polymerization, is what we were told, that was ever at risk of overheating. Never five at any one point in time," Murphy pointed out.

"It's just a matter of money. It's cheaper to throw a match and blow it up than it is to truck it out and take it out appropriately. You know, that's lost revenue for Norfolk Southern," she continued. "The truth is going to come out and it's going to be a slow process, but we're all suffering. In the meantime, what's the cost going to be to us while we're waiting for the real truth to come out?"


Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this report.

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