EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — In Eastern Ohio near the Pennsylvania border, where homes sit close to the rolling roads and forests are thick in any spot unsuitable for agriculture, East Palestine was quiet nearly two months after the Norfolk Southern train derailment.
At the center of town on March 28, a bell rang inside of Tom's Tire (dba Tom's Wholesale Tire), and technician Clayton Gorby rushed outside to pump gas for a customer — the station is full service. Behind the counter, shop owner Harry Jones signed for a parts delivery before tech Dylan "Doug" Douglas grabbed them — brake rotors — and headed back to the service bays.
If you didn't know about the Norfolk Southern train derailment on Feb. 3, there aren't a lot of indications in town that anything happened, let alone the apocalyptic-looking scenes of hazardous materials in flames that captured international attention.
Upon closer inspection, you may notice creeks being flushed and a lot of service trucks, hoses and yellow air-quality monitors around the area.
Just seeing the news clips, Jones said, gives people a false sense of the reality of East Palestine.
"There's a lot of misconceptions going on," he said. "People still think the train's burning, they still think it's on fire, and there's a big cloud hovering over us in town."
As the cleanup continues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ohio EPA and Ohio governor's office have said the air and water quality is safe, but long-term health and environmental impacts are unknown.
"We have a creek half a block from here that's contaminated," Jones said. "The EPA is down there working on it. They're not wearing HAZMAT suits. They're not wearing respirators. ... So, I feel if they're safe to be down there working, then we're pretty safe here."