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East Palestine resident says sore eyes, shortness of breath continues a month after derailment

Courtney Miller, like so many people living in East Palestine, is worried about the long-term effects of February’s train derailment.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — It’s been more than a month since the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine that dumped more than a million gallons of hazardous chemicals.

“We just want them to do something about it,” Courtney Miller said.

Miller first talked to 10TV Reporter Bryant Somerville in late February. She showed him the chemicals that were floating in the creek behind her home. Now, a month later, she said she’s experiencing many of the same symptoms others around town have reported.

“My eyes are swollen and I keep rubbing them,” she said. “There’s always gunky stuff in them [and] they’re sore. It’s hard to breathe sometimes. My voice keeps going in and out. My stomach has been hurting for at least a week now. Just constant stomach pain. I just don’t understand.”

Miller forwarded documents from an independent testing done by ALS Environmental and Eurofins to 10TV that identified seven dioxins present in that creek water as well as five other chemicals.

“And that was just the water,” she said. “That’s not even the soil.”

This week, Ohio’s Attorney General Dave Yost announced the state has filed a 58-count lawsuit against Norfolk Southern saying the fallout could continue for years and there’s still so much unknown about the long term effects on air, water and soil.

RELATED: Ohio AG Dave Yost sues Norfolk Southern over ‘entirely avoidable’ train derailment in East Palestine

“Does that, in any way, help the situation,” Somerville asked Miller Thursday on a Zoom interview.

“If they would just quit arguing and just do what needs to be done and do it the right way, we just don’t want to be sick,” she said.

Ohio EPA’s website says it continues to independently test the municipal water supply in East Palestine weekly. And, as of right now, there is no indication of risk to East Palestine public water customers and treated drinking water shows no detection of contaminants associated with the derailment, but that the data does not apply to private wells.

The water behind Miller’s house, EPA says, is not the source for the municipal water supply and is not believed to be the source for private wells.

“We’re all still just so frustrated and we just keep getting worse,” she said. “And sicker every day.”

During the unknown, Miller fears it will only continue to be a battlefield for politics and not resolution.

“We just want them to stop making it so political,” Miller said. “These are people's lives. These are children. That stuff is there and it’s bad.”

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