East Palestine, Ohio rolled out a digital ID system just days before the disastrous train derailment that saw vast quantities of the highly carcinogenic vinyl chloride spilled, and then burned off into the atmosphere.
Reports of the uncanny timing follows news of another stunning “coincidence” connected to the events in East Palestine. The CDC edited the toxicology profile for vinyl chloride, massively increasing the lethal exposure level and removing information about how the chemical affects children, just 11 days before the disaster.
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On Jan. 26, Lisbon, Ohio-based media outlet Morning Journal (archive) reported that East Palestine Fire Department was “hosting a sign up event” for a service called MyID targeting both East Palestine and nearby Unity Township.
The outlet quoted East Palestine Councilman Robert Runnion as stating, “MyID is a program that helps first responders aid victims more effectively and efficiently.”
The article added that MyID “touts itself” as a “comprehensive medical ID solution that provides an easy way to access, store and manage your health information.”
Morning Journal explained, “How it works is the company sells a variety of products like bracelets, tags, stickers and wallet cards that feature a QR code that can be scanned by medical personnel to get access to your online medical profile in a few short seconds.”
“The products allow first responders to scan the QR code quickly in the event of an emergency thereby removing any time delays in accessing important health information related to the person in need of help, or in the event that a person cannot communicate,” the outlet added.
But the plan had been months in the making, according to WKBN27 news, which ran something of an advertorial for the MyID rollout in East Palestine in October of 2022.
The lead paragraph of the article stated, “East Palestine is known as ‘The Place to Be.’ It’s way ahead of the curve on a program to provide better treatment for anyone in the event of an emergency. We learned how it works and how it could help everyone in East Palestine.”
Vision Times reports: A video of a television segment accompanying the article showed that the wearables sold by MyID not only included a scannable QR code, but were also RFID tap-enabled.
“Orders will start in January,” WKBN27 stated, adding, “The Fire Department has already collected $5,000 in donations to help.”
In a second Jan. 26 article published by WKBN27, EPFD Chief Keith Drabick stated, “We’re not doing this to gain anybody’s information, to try and steal anybody’s information. We’re doing this to help the public in medical emergencies.”
Drabick added, “Anybody that skeptical? Please come on down. Sit down, talk to us. We’ll be happy to show you everything that goes on with it. We’ll be happy to show you how secure it is.”
Darlene Chapman, also with the EPFD, told the outlet regarding the MyID signup event, “We want to bring people in to get signed up, to pick their device that they want, and just so we can see who all is interested in it.”
WKBN stated that the devices were not only ready to go, but would be free for the first 250 customers, “People who are ready can sign up and pick their device. It’s free. The village has $5,000 in donations to cover the first phase of 250 devices.”
According to a Facebook page for the Jan. 29 signup event, 1 person was interested, and 1 person went.
A Facebook Live video published by the East Palestine Park Board on Oct. 1, 2022 also showed Chapman manning a promotional booth for MyID at a local craft fair.
In the video, Chapman showed the session how she could scan a wearable device connected to her own health information.
The MyID app displayed “your diagnosis…your personal information…your emergency contacts…allergies you have…medications that you’re on…lists your family physician,” Chapman both stated and demonstrated.
Chapman added that, at the time, the EPFD was only doing signups, and hoped to get a proper rollout of the system to takers by November.
The MyID website shows a variety of RFID and QR code-enabled wearables ranging in price from $5 to $95.
A FAQ page on the company website states that its technology is secure because it utilizes Amazon Web Services, firewalls, SSL, and an automatic logout function on its app.
Eyes on the ground
A Feb. 16 Twitter thread by independent journalist Pedro Gonzalez displayed on the ground scenes from East Palestine following the disaster, which showed what appear to be a dozen construction site dumpster-style bins lining the side of the town’s roadways at the East Palestine Park.
“I interviewed a family near the park that works at a factory that was close to where the train derailed. Workers are pumping and cleaning this creek all day and night,” Gonzalez stated.
Further video showed extensive equipment operating in a local creek.
Gonzalez added that town residents appear to be in the dark about what exactly is being done by the cleanup crews, “…there are conflicting reports about everything on every level. Even locals are in the dark about what’s happening literally in their backyard and those in charge aren’t helping. It’s a huge communication problem.”
The journalist showed a video he obtained from a local resident showing cleanup crews transporting the dumpsters out of the city every night between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. “like clockwork.”
He added that the cleanup crews refused to talk to him, and that town residents he spoke with say that although the crew is polite, they won’t speak with the residents, either.
Clear and present danger
Although network media has attempted to downplay the severity and danger of the chemical spill, a Feb. 15 “Tip Sheet” issued by the University of Cornell quoted Emeritus Professor Murray McBride as warning that vinyl chloride is “highly mobile in soils and water.”
The Tip Sheet advised farmers and residents to “test wells and soils where crops are grown.”
McBride explained, “Several industrial chemicals, including vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate, were released in large quantities into the air, surface waters and soils at the site of the derailment.”
“The vinyl chloride release from the rail cars is of special concern because of the particularly high toxicity of this chemical to humans,” he added.
The Professor noted that the chemicals can also “persist for years in groundwater.”
McBride also warned that the burnoff of the chemical spill by Norfolk Southern Railway as it raced to get the line reopened was also not a trivial matter for the local environment.
“Because the combustion of vinyl chloride that resulted from the accident may have created highly toxic dioxins, surface soils downwind of the spill site should be tested for dioxin levels particularly where food crops are to be grown,” he stated.
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