The Toxic Nightmare Begins

Arthur Hargate
2 min readFeb 16, 2023
Photo by J.E. Hargate

The cruel reality is that the residents of East Palestine, OH are now captured lab rats in a massive uncontrolled science experiment involving long term exposure to a toxic nightmare of industrial chemicals and their Frankenstein amalgam of decomposition by-products.

The residents’ horror will be the slow, agonizing and hideously prolonged type. Acute effects of this disaster are now only beginning to be somewhat understood. The chronic effects are completely unknowable, will evolve over years and will almost certainly be profound.

But no one will tell the residents that. No one will tell them the grim truth that no one has any idea whatsoever what will happen to them or their offspring after being exposed to this toxic soup of poisonous contaminants over time. They want to first quickly get the rabble calmed down. That’s their first order of business. Get back to business as usual. Because business is what matters most.

Despite vague and generalized assurances with very limited and entirely inconclusive data from so-called industry and government “experts,” these chemicals do not just go away and while they become diluted, they will in fact end up and remain in the groundwater, surface water and sediments, the soil, the food chain of plants and animals and the bodies of people, pets and wildlife for the foreseeable future.

Just remember the ironclad assurances public officials gave after 9–11 that the affected areas in NYC were safe to return to and that the acute exposures of emergency responders and residents were not a big concern. It was horse manure then, just as it is horse manure now, and it is likely that the magnitude of illnesses and suffering seen in NYC after 9–11 will eventually hit East Palestine, OH as well.

So, if you live in East Palestine, trust nothing you are being told by anyone in industry or government who has a vested interest in downplaying the significance of what has happened to you and returning things to “normal” as quickly as possible. Profits come before people, and don’t you ever forget that.

So, my advice to the people in East Palestine is to quickly find yourself a cadre of very high-powered environmental, public health and legal advocates and dig in for a multi-decade fight to protect your health and the health of successive generations of residents of East Palestine, OH.

Your environmental and public health nightmare has sadly just begun. Long after the media and politicians have gone away, the true effects of this environmental and public health disaster will only start to emerge.

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Arthur Hargate

Arthur Hargate is retired after a 40-year management career in the environmental services business. He now writes, plays guitar and is a social activist.