Example of Poweroint slide with Cathy's face and a photo of big smoke cloud

The March 2023 Free Press Second Saturday Cyber-Salon happened on Zoom and Facebook Live on March 11, facilitated by Free Press Board member Mark Stansbery.

Watch the salon video here.

International Women’s Day was March 8 and Mark pointed out how women are the backbone of all peace organizing and he talked about women organizing in Sudan.

Cathy Cowan Becker spoke on the timeline and issues surrounding the East Palestine train derailment in Ohio. She mentioned a group operating in East Palestine, River Valley Organizing, a labor and environmental group who wanted the area called a disaster area, but Biden has not done it yet. She showed a detailed Powerpoint presentation on the timeline from the day of the derailment.

She noted that the rail industry blocked safety regulations that may have prevented the derailment for many years. The cover-up after the derailment has been obvious, especially when a reporter at the scene was arrested and charged with trespass, though charges were finally dropped.

The US EPA said the Norfolk Southern railroad had to pay for the damages. The derailment was bad enough, but the controlled burn released vinyl chloride into the air, a very toxic substance. One slide showed how smoke from the controlled burn went into New York and Canada. At first the report was that 3500 animals died as a result of this disaster.

Governor DeWine turned down assistance from federal government, as he didn’t think of it as a disaster. Norfolk Southern hired the company to do the water samples and scientists said they used bad techniques that concluded there was no environmental problem.

Contaminated water is traveling down the Ohio River. Expert guy went in and found dead fish, amphibians, frogs. Men in black cars were following him around. There was the usual photo op with officials drinking the tap water.

Trump visited East Palestine and Biden has not been there yet. It is Trump country in East Palestine.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg weighed in finally. A report found that an overheated wheel bearing caused the wreck – the train car was carrying plastic pellets

Residents very angry. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources raised the estimate of animals killed to 4300 but people think it’s higher.

Dioxins were created when burning vinyl chloride, well known by all environmental groups. No one was testing for dioxins. Independent researchers found levels too high of nine chemicals.

Erin Brockovich came to East Palestine and told people to go get tested  and said it was the worst example of contamination she’d ever seen

Three facilities in Ohio getting the contaminated soil from the accident, one corrupt polluting facility in East Liverpool.

Ohio legislature added rail safety provisions to a bill. Senators Brown and Vance announced rail safety procedures including rail inspection time and fines. DeWine requested an extension of time for a federal disaster request.

OSHA has an investigation of worker safety for those cleaning up the site. Norfolk Southern pledged $21 million for relief.

Causes of the train disaster

  1. Corporate greed – Norfolk Southern
    Railroad lobby groups oppose all safety regulation. Industry know for gutting workforce, making trains longer, back-heavy loading, not keeping up infrastructure, changing regulations, no updated brakes, no rail tracks maintenance, and no hot wheel detection.
  2. Politics
    Narrowed definition of what a rail company has to tell the state about their contents when traveling through.
    The derailed train was not labeled “high flammable.”

Electronic brakes – lots of current trains have Civil War era brakes.
Requirement for new brakes passed by Obama administraton, but Trump administration revoked those rules.

DeWine got lots of money from Norfolk Southern.

  1. Reliance on plastic – that’s what the train was carrying.

Plastic is made from fossil fuels.

There will be a plastic burning plant in Ohio to make fuel, one planned in Newark and one proposed in Grove City by SWACO.

THIS COULD BE Trigger event for change

Unfortunately the media is starting to move off the issue. People need to put pressure on Ohio Transportation Agency to get stiffer regulations.

We should also lift up voices of the East Palestine community even though it is Trumpland. They are human beings too and deserve clean air and clean water.


And one more good story just today in the Dispatch.

Travis Irvine talked about the Householder and Borges convictions and encouraged everyone to put their “Repeal HB6” signs back out. He pointed out how we are looking for more convictions – Dewine, Randazzo, LaRose.

Winie Wirth promoted “Set Them Free,” an art auction where Columbus-based artists have donated a variety of artwork to help support efforts to end human trafficking. The sales from this exhibition will benefit Esther Flores’ organization 1DivineLine2Health. It is a month-long auction at the Vanderelli Room, 218 McDowell St.

Kyle Pierce of the Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunities spoke about the petition Protecting Ohioans’ Constitutional Rights, who works with Cynthia Brown on the statewide petition drive to end Qualified Immunity. The petition language was again rejected by the Ohio Attorney General and they are re-grouping and will again be gathering the 1000 signatures necessary.

Bryan Curtiss talked about the need for WCRS community radio to move and Suzanne Patzer talked about the need for WGRN radio to also move. They lost the space for their antennas. Both groups are fundraising for the costs necessary for the move. WCRS will continue to be heard on 92.7 and streaming at WGRN will be off broadcast air for a few weeks but still streamed at and come back as 91.9FM
Donate to WCRS
Donate to WGRN

MJ Borden talked about a medical marijuana bill and will testify at the Ohio Statehouse on Wednesday, March 14 at 3pm.