PITTSBURGH — Activists and local residents gathered for a rally in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday, holding signs and calling for “environmental justice.”
The gathering took place outside of the MetCoke World Summit, a conference for the coke, coal and steel industries.
Rally attendees asked for accountability while calling out several companies, including U.S. Steel, accusing its Clairton Coke Works plant of causing “disastrous health impacts.”
Others spoke against Norfolk Southern, a sponsor of the conference, accusing the company of gross negligence in the case of the East Palestine train derailment.
“We are all waiting to see how America holds corporate companies accountable,” said Hilary Flint, Vice President of the Unity Council for The East Palestine Train Derailment.
Another group, Not An Alternative, was present and spoke to Channel 11 about three billboards that are now on display in Clairton, East Palestine and Washington County.
“The [Washington County] billboard says kids living near fracking wells are two to three times more likely on average to get childhood leukemia... a shocking statistic, but it’s not just a statistic. People are living these realities right now,” Steve Lyons said.
The Clairton billboard includes a photograph of a monument that was hand-carved from a tree killed in “climate-fueled wildfires.” The monument will be installed near the Clairton Coke Works plant during another event this Saturday.
Channel 11 reached out to U.S. Steel for comment regarding Wednesday’s event. A spokesperson told us “U. S. Steel remains committed to doing its fair share to protect the air quality in the communities where we live and operate. U. S. Steel is not a participant in the MetCoke World Summit.”
We also contacted a representative for Norfolk Southern, who told us “Since the evacuation was lifted, outdoor air monitoring and sampling results continue to indicate no concern with respect to derailment-related chemicals and continue to support that the air in East Palestine is safe to breathe. More than 115 million air monitoring and sampling data points have been collected. As site work progress continues, including creek assessment, water treatment, and longer-term assessment work, air monitoring and sampling resources will continue to evolve.”
Channel 11 made attempts Wednesday to reach a MetCoke spokesperson.
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