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The derailment of the Northfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio is nothing short of an ongoing disaster. On February 3, fifty of the train's 150 cars derailed right on the doorstep of the Ohioan town, unleashing its payload of dangerous chemicals, including the known carcinogen vinyl chloride.

Authorities rushed to perform a controlled burn of the remaining highly flammable chemicals to stave off an impending explosion, and although successful, the ordeal is far from over.

The burn only added to the cocktail of lethal chemicals already airborne from the initial crash, this time releasing phosgene gas, which has historically been used as a chemical weapon. And since the initial derailment and the ensuing controlled burn, residents of both East Palestine and neighboring towns have reported respiratory issues, sicknesses, and the eeriest omen of all: dead animals.

These reports are in spite of the Ohio governor's office announcing just five days after the derailment that the area was safe for residents to return home. Others, who lived outside the town's evacuation zone and never budged under the assumption that they were safe all along, are also reporting ailments.

In addition, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to insist that the air quality in the town is safe, especially after the fumes from the burn have now cleared up.

"Air monitoring since the fire went out has not detected any levels of concern in the community that can be attributed to the incident at this time," the agency said in a statement.

Amanda Breshears, who lives ten miles from the crash, says her chickens were alive and well on the day of the controlled burn, providing videos. But when she checked in on them the next morning, not one of the fowl was still alive.

"If it can do this to chickens in one night, imagine what it's going to do to us in 20 years," she told local news station WKBN27

One resident, Andrea Belden, found her two-year-old cat Leo lying motionless with a racing heartbeat and labored breathing after the derailment, The New Republic reports. The cat was later found to be dying of congestive heart failure, with fluid filling his heart and lungs.

Belden needed $18,000 to continue life saving treatment for Leo. Even though the vet noted the sickness was likely connected to the vinyl chloride release, Norfolk Southern refused to offer any compensation at the time, and with no other options, Belden was forced to euthanize poor Leo.

Taylor Holzer, a foxkeeper residing outside of the original evacuation zone, told WKBN that his foxes have been sick and behaving erratically since the derailment — and one of them even died.

"Out of nowhere, he just started coughing really hard, just shut down, and he had liquid diarrhea and just went very fast," he told the TV station.

Meanwhile, some worry that the chemicals from the derailed train may have contaminated the nearby Ohio river, but the West Virginia American Water utility company, which uses water from the river, said it hasn't detected any changes in the raw water, the AP reports, and no drinking water advisories have so far been issued.

Yet, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources says it's estimated that some 3,500 fish have died in the river as the result of a chemical spillage from the derailment, it confirmed on Monday, which would seem to be at odds with claims of the water being safe.

In what appears to be another puzzling contradiction, the EPA stated that the dangerous chemicals from the derailment "continue to be released to the air, surface soils, and surface waters," in a letter to the rail company which was sent after residents had already been allowed to return to East Palestine — emblematic of the mixed messaging from officials that has residents confused, wary, and distrusting.

And unfortunately, there's no shortage of humans reporting worrying symptoms, either. Resident Chelsea Simpson reported that after the derailment, her baby suffered respiratory issues that required a steroid for treatment, she told TNR. Simpson herself was not unaffected, with bloodshot and burning eyes after spending just ten minutes returning to her home after it was declared safe.

Melissa Henry, who also lived in town, said that she evacuated her family earlier than the official evacuation because her son's "eyes turned red as [a] tomato and he was coughing a lot," she told The Associated Press.

Even those living well outside the town are also reporting mysterious symptoms. Therese Vigliotti, who lives 15 miles away, detected a faint odor in the air, according to TNR, and shortly after, a strange feeling in her tongue and a numbness in her lips. That "strange feeling" soon turned into a burning feeling over the week, and she began to find blood in her stool.

In general, many residents have corroborated claims of headaches and sicknesses in the wake of the disaster, the New York Times notes, with at least two of them banding together to file a lawsuit demanding that Norfolk Southern pay for the medical screenings and monitoring of anyone living within a 30 mile radius of the derailment, the AP reports.

"This isn't going to get swept under the rug," the town's disgruntled mayor Trent Conaway told the AP. "I'm not going to be the country bumpkin that gets, you know, talked over by a big corporation."

"We’re going to hold their feet to the fire," Conaway continued. "They’re going to do what they said they were going to do, and they’re going to protect the people of this town."

More on the Ohio train derailment: There's a Super Bizarre Coincidence Surrounding the Ohio Train Disaster

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