"One Family’s Toxic Train Wreck Ordeal: Illness, Exile and Debt"

"The Albright family left town after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed near their Ohio home. Now, they are back, facing personal, medical and financial crises in a newly divided community."

"When Jessica Albright returned with her family to their home in East Palestine, Ohio, last month after four months away, she opened the car door and took a deep breath — then stopped and thought: Maybe not too deep. Hauling suitcases up the steps, she tried to discern whether the acrid scent in the air had lessened.

The mother of three could not be certain — of the smell, of its effects or of the correct next steps for her family. After a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed a half-mile from the Albrights’ house in February, a series of mysterious health symptoms forced Ms. Albright; her husband, Chris, and two of their daughters to move to a hotel room in Pennsylvania 20 miles away.

Now, they were back, not because their health issues had resolved, or because the house had been proven free of contaminants. They were back because they had $41 left in their savings account and felt they had no other choice.

Despite several weeks of intense focus, national attention has long since shifted away from East Palestine, where the Ohio governor has declared the air and water safe, and the Environmental Protection Agency has cited “no evidence to suggest there is contamination of concern.” Schools reopened, the town held its annual street fair, and when summer came, the picnic tables at The Dairy Mill soft-serve stand were crowded once more."

Emily Baumgaertner reports for the New York Times with photographs by Brian Kaiser August 16, 2023.

Source: NYTimes, 08/17/2023