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Deteriorating trust in experts adds to frustration and complications in East Palestine

Residents mill about a high school gym where agencies on the ground in East Palestine have tables set up.
Abigail Bottar
Ideastream Public Media
Residents attended an information fair on March 3, 2023. Agencies working on the ground in East Palestine were there to answer questions and talk one on one with residents about their concerns.

It has been just over a month since a Norfolk Southern train derailed in the town of East Palestine Ohio. That train spilled toxic chemicals and led to a controlled burn of some of the substances.

The incident also quickly became a highly politicized event.

Residents in the town of about 4,700 have complained about various ailments in the weeks since the derailment, and are worried about long-term health consequences of the spill.

State and federal officials, from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine have said repeatedly that the water, soil and air in the region is safe. But those assurances have done little to assure the residents of East Palestine and the surrounding communities.

Public trust in politicians, medical experts, and journalists have taken a hit in recent years - much of that exacerbated by the pandemic. This distrust makes for a complicated situation over in East Palestine, as officials try and get residents the help they need but facing pushback from residents themselves.

We kick off the show today discussing how distrust in institutions is playing out in East Palestine with Ideastream health reporter Taylor Wizner.

Later in the hour, we look back at the massive LEAP tech conference that just took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - and Case Western Reserve University's Jared Bendis was there in attendance.

- Taylor Wizner, Health Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
- Jared Bendis, Creative New Media Officer, Case Western Reserve University; Associate Professor and Chair of Game Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.