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Press Statement March 23, 2023

NAACP Issues Immediate Demands in Response to East Palestine Environmental Crisis

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The Biden Administration has shared that environmental justice is a priority. How the EPA and the Biden Administration decides to move forward in decisions regarding hazardous materials and waste from the train derailment in East Palestine will be part of its legacy. Now is the time to ensure that environmental statutes are used to protect communities, not to perpetuate more contamination in places that are sacrifice zones.

"For far too long, Black communities have suffered because of lack of protections by the federal government and a lack of accountability by industries that harm vulnerable populations", said NAACP Ohio Branch President, Tom Roberts. "In Ohio, we know that the derailment that impacted East Palestine and surrounding communities could have happened anywhere. The area where it happened is already a place that suffers many environmental injustices. Our goal is to make sure we hear from communities who are impacted and prioritize their voices for solutions."

Companies like Norfolk Southern must be held accountable, and it's a time to ensure that lessons are learned. Black people who often live in sacrifice zones must be prioritized and centered in next steps.

"As a resident in Columbiana county, we know we have been part of an area that has been neglected in environmental justice conversation for too long", said Daniel Winston, NAACP member and Columbiana County resident. "Now is the time to demand clear and systemic solutions that prioritize the people most impacted as well as Black leaders who live in the area. We recognize that the decisions made in East Palestine are important for environmental justice conversations across this country."

NAACP Immediate demands: More accountability and transparency for vulnerable populations and Black communities when transporting hazardous materials 

  1. Safe soil disposal that will not be in sacrifice zones
  2. Community advisory board to inform cleanup, long-term needs, and remediation process 
  3. Community Health Clinics and Long-term testing 
  4. Better protections regarding transportation of hazardous materials 

All vulnerable populations must be at the table to ensure equitable solutions for soil disposal, health assessments, water and air quality testing, and policy reform center the people most impacted. Our demands come from the communities most impacted and we will continue to center them in our next steps.

For more information on our environmental and climate justice initiatives, visit our webpage here.