The 981 Project
The 981 Project Podcast
Whom to Trust?

Whom to Trust?

Here's who I'm following for news in East Palestine, Ohio

I was sickened by the news of the February 3 Norfolk Southern train derailment and subsequent explosion in the village of East Palestine, Ohio. I think it was February 5 when I heard it described as an “American Chernobyl.” That’ll draw the hairs up on your forearms, eh?

The closest I’ve come to the village is East Liverpool, some 28 miles south, a river town with a fascinating history that I’ll write about here soon. Twenty-eight miles is not a great distance for poisoned water to travel into the Ohio River, which provides drinking water to about five million people. But was that ever a risk? Is it now?

In this age of extreme partisanship, disinformation, and information overload, it takes a savvy and committed news consumer to develop well-informed views.

The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it's very difficult to build and very easy to destroy.

~Thomas J. Watson (Chair & CEO of IBM)

Folks on the ground in East Palestine

Fellow Substacker Status Coup offers a compilation of interviews with people on the ground in East Palestine or who, in Erin Brockovich’s case, will take their calls seriously. Brockovich’s name may be familiar from the film made about her work in Hinkley, California, which featured Julia Roberts in the title role.

On a personal note, my parents went to high school in Barstow, California, with folks who were a part of the settlement that Ms. Brockovich brought to fruition from Pacific Gas & Electric in 1996. She has earned my trust.

screen grab of CBS News interview with Erin Brockavich
Watch the full interview at

Like many of us, Ms. Brockovich is not prepared to blindly trust the information provided by politicians who are on corporate payrolls or the underfunded agencies they control. She says the unhealthy symptoms that East Palestinians are reporting have been falling on disbelieving ears. This is similar to what residents experienced in Flint, Michigan.

Follow Ms. Brockovich directly on Substack, on Twitter, and on her website.

Social media options

Over the last five years, I have built a list of Twitter folks with interests in the Ohio River and Appalachia (yes, this part of Ohio is Appalachia). That doesn’t mean I agree with everything they think, say, or do, but if you’re interested in what’s being said, done, and refuted, you might scroll through their posts.

The 981 Project
The 981 Project Podcast
Join Tamela Rich for dispatches from all 981 miles of the Ohio River: people, places, history, culture, and more.