Train Derailment Sparks Tensions in East Palestine, Ohio

As mistrust and anxiety in East Palestine, Ohio, grow following a train derailment that led to the leak of oil and toxic chemicals, a second train has derailed near Detroit.

But Northwestern University anthropologist Sera Young says it “almost doesn’t matter if it’s true or not” whether materials were leaked in the latest incident, because U.S. communities are so steeped in mistrust for their water – which Young says can be a proxy for mistrust in their government – that it will continue to dictate behaviors.

Sera Young, associate professor of anthropology in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and an expert on water security, and Erik C. Nisbet, the Owen L. Coon Endowed Professor of Policy Analysis and Communication and director of the Center for Communication & Public Policy in the School of Communication, can speak on growing mistrust around water security, the government and media.

Aaron I. Packman, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, can speak about environmental implications of the spill, and chemistry professor Julia Kalow can speak in depth about the chemicals aboard the train.

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