A U.S. union official informed the Biden administration that workers cleaning up the toxic East Palestine train derailment site have become sick, according to letters obtained by CNBC.
In the letters, addressed to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, and East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway, Long said “Norfolk Southern is Dangerous to America.”
“Many other Employees reported that they continue to experience migraines and nausea, days after the derailment, and they all suspect that they were willingly exposed to these chemicals at the direction of NS [Norfolk Southern],” the letter reads.
“This lack of concern for the Workers’ safety and well-being is, again, a basic tenet of NS’s cost-cutting business model,” the letter added.
“One worker shared with me that he called his supervisor and requested to be transported off the derailment site due to concerns of his safety caused by the exposure to the chemicals which were causing him nausea and migraines,” the letter stated.
“Many other employees reported that they continue to experience migraines and nausea, days after the derailment, and they all suspect that they were willingly exposed to these chemicals at the direction of NS. This lack of concern for the workers’ safety and well-being is, again, a basic tenet of NS’s cost-cutting business model,” the letter added.
The meeting comes on the heels of letters sent to both the DOT and the FRA Wednesday in which union representations claimed rail workers had gotten sick at the derailment site. CNBC obtained the letters, addressed to Buttigieg, Bose, East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, from the general chairman of the American Rail System Federation of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
According to the letter, Norfolk Southern rail workers who have worked or continue to work the cleanup site have reported experiencing “migraines and nausea.” One worker reportedly asked his supervisor to be transferred off the derailment site because of his symptoms, but never heard back from his supervisor and was left at the job site.
The letter also claims workers are not being provided appropriate personal protective equipment such as respirators, eye protection or protective clothing. According to union representatives, 35 to 40 workers were on the track and were not supplied with proper breathing apparatuses — only paper and N95 masks — or rubber gloves, boots or coverups.
A Norfolk Southern spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that the train company was “on-scene immediately after the derailment and coordinated our response with hazardous material professionals who were on site continuously to ensure the work area was safe to enter and the required PPE was utilized, all in addition to air monitoring that was established within an hour.”
Read the full letter here: