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WASHINGTON, D.C.– River Valley Organizing and neighboring community organizing groups in the tristate area released the statements below in regards to the train derailment on the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line. The accident caused the release of vinyl chloride and an explosion that left residents in need of immediate evacuation.

Groups are urging Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to request an emergency declaration from President Biden so that federal relief can be used to address this regional calamity. They have also created a petition asking people to demand that Gov. DeWine submit the emergency declaration request as soon as possible.

Public statement from community organizing groups in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio

February 7, 2023

On Sunday, more than 100 train cars carrying vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing chemical, derailed and sparked a massive fire in East Palestine, Ohio. Families have been forced to evacuate or shelter-in-place due to toxic air and the threat of exploding shrapnel.

This shouldn’t be happening. We all deserve clean air and water – that’s why we stand with our neighbors in the Ohio River Valley region to demand that Governor DeWine request an emergency declaration from President Biden so we can get immediate relief to people in Ohio. Governor DeWine must step up and lead to support Ohioans and demonstrate he’s prioritizing the lives of impacted Ohioans over party politics.

Signed by:

West Virginia Citizen Action Group
Pennsylvania Stands Up
River Valley Organizing

Letter from River Valley Organizing to Gov. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio

To Ohio Governor, Mike DeWine,

As a nonpartisan 501c3 organization, we at River Valley Organizing are sick and tired of the politics being played while our lives are on the line. While the EPA tells us our air and water is clean, people are choking on chlorine gas and fish are popping up dead all over Columbiana County.

President Biden should immediately declare a federal emergency to support Ohioans impacted by this toxic spill. While we don’t yet know all of the impacts from this disaster, we do know that vinyl chloride is cancerous and has now been spread all over Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. People are displaced and distraught. We desperately need the help of FEMA for our hard working citizens and first responders.

The “controlled burn” was not under control. Residents all over 4 counties reported to us symptoms of nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, and headaches. We are sheltering in place while people are telling us everything is okay.

We urge you, Governor DeWine, to declare a federal emergency. Stop the politics and protect a historically unprotected region. Call President Biden today.

West Virginia Citizen Action Group, Pennsylvania Stands Up, and River Valley Organizing are members of People’s Action, a national network of 40 state and local grassroots power-building organizations in 29 states. People’s Action builds the power of poor and working people in urban, rural, and suburban areas to win change through issue fights and elections.

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About People’s Action Institute

Over five decades, People’s Action Institute and our affiliates have fought for reforms that recognize poor and working people’s dignity and make material and political improvements to millions of lives. Our victories include the Community Reinvestment Act, Superfund, the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the MAT Act.

We engage in issue campaigns, public education and training to advance a long-term agenda for racial, economic and gender justice. Our focus now is on deepening community organizing so we can build lasting power across the country. 

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