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    NewsUSAWhat is East Palestine like? Life in the Ohio town where a hazmat train derailed

    What is East Palestine like? Life in the Ohio town where a hazmat train derailed

    (CNN Spanish) — East Palestine, in the spotlight after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed there earlier this month, is a small Ohio town with fewer than 5,000 residents.

    The town, located in Columbiana County, has just over 2,100 homes with 4,761 residents, according to the most recent US Census data.

    The vast majority of the population – which demands more answers after the accident in which toxic waste, including vinyl chloride, was dumped – is originally from the United States. Only 1.9% were born abroad, according to the census, and of that small percentage, most are naturalized. This is a significantly lower percentage of foreigners than the state, which amounts to 5%.

    It is a town with practically no Latin roots: more than 30% of the population has German ancestors, followed by a similar percentage of residents with Irish roots and other minority groups in comparison.

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    The median age of the population is 39.8 years, very similar to that of the state. Almost 21% are over 65 years of age. Minors, for their part, represent almost 28%.

    What do the inhabitants of East Palestine do?

    East Palestine’s poverty rate stood at 9.1% in 2021, 2.5 percentage points lower than the overall United States for that year, according to census data.

    According to that source, a vast majority of the town’s residents (more than 75%) are employees of private companies, while about 13% are federal, state or local government officials. The employment rate is 54.3%, five percentage points below that of the state.

    Among employed people over 16 years of age, the highest percentage is concentrated in the sector of accommodation and food services, recreational, entertainment and artistic activities (18.1%). They are followed by those dedicated to manufacturing (16.6%), and educational, health and social assistance services (14.2%). 9.7% of the active population works in retail trade, a category followed by professional, scientific and management services (including waste management) which employ 8.7% of the inhabitants.

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    Most of the population has a secondary education level.

    There are close to 20% of people with some kind of disability, a figure that is several points higher than the state figure. Of that total, about half have a type of hardship that prevents them from living independently, according to census data. In addition, a 5.6 does not have health insurance.

    A town crossed by rivers

    The spill of chemicals after the train derailment and the subsequent fire that broke out in East Palestine has seriously affected local aquatic life: around 3,500 fish of 12 species died from the contamination of the water of streams and rivers, CNN reported this week .

    Reports of the death of chickens and pets also reached the authorities, although until this Tuesday the authorities had found no evidence that the chemicals had affected non-aquatic species.

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    Several bodies of water stand out in the town, such as East Palestine Lake located in the east of the city and the Sulfur Run and Leslie Run rivers that flow through the community.

    The state of Ohio can be divided into two large subregions, explains the Encyclopedia Britannica: the Appalachian Plateau to the east, and the central lowlands to the west. East Palestine is located in the Appalachian Plateau region, which runs along the eastern border of the state.

    “Throughout the plateau, the land is crisscrossed by rivers that meander between steep hills, with many areas reaching elevations of about 1,300 feet,” Britannica explains.

    With information from Samantha Beech, Eric Levenson, Aya Elamroussi, Ella Nielsen, and Ángela Reyes Haczek.


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